Shane Muse is out of jail as of Monday, on supervised release while he awaits trial.
Muse has been one of numerous repeat offenders who have cycled in and out of jail under the the State’s “give crooks a chance” law, SB 91.
He was singled out by Anchorage Assembly members Dick Traini, Fred Dyson, and Eric Croft in a letter drafted to state legislators, pleading with them to strengthen penalties for those repeatedly committing serious crimes.
Muse’s recent criminal career in Alaska includes an incident in October, when he was stopped by Anchorage police in a stolen silver 2003 Cadillac Escalade on West 44th Ave., after careening through Midtown and ramming police vehicles in an attempt to escape.
Officers arrested him and two others in that incident. One person in the car, Crystal Tui, had been released several weeks ago. Muse was released by the judge after being charged with numerous Class C felonies.
On March 6, Muse was caught in a 2006 black GMC Yukon that had been reported stolen weeks earlier. The Yukon was parked next to two other occupied vehicles: a silver GMC pickup truck and a silver Chevy Malibu. The officer who spotted the Yukon knew it to be stolen.
As the officer waited for backup, the drivers of the three vehicles noticed him, and pulled away. With all three vehicles now evading the law, patrol units were dispatched to chase the Malibu and the GMC pickup, while another officer forced the Yukon into a snowbank at 10th and Juneau Streets.
At some point in the proceedings, numerous shots were fired not far from the police officers. No one was hit, but officers found a stolen handgun inside the Yukon, tucked beneath the seat where Muse had been sitting. There was a bullet in the chamber.
Muse was booked, but with the pretrial risk assessment tool the state uses, he scored a 2 out of 10, and qualified for mandatory release in spite of being charged with two counts of theft, vehicle theft 1, and being a felon in possession of a weapon. He also had a prior forgery charge and had been missing his court dates on that charge.
The Assistant District Attorney Kevin Bergt told the judge at the time that Muse was a serious risk to the public. But the judge wasn’t able to keep Muse in jail on the car theft and felon-in-posesssion charges, since he could not afford bail.
However, the judge was able to keep him locked up for the forgery incident, since it occurred before the lenient catch-and-release portion of SB 91 went into effect. The judge set bail at $5,000, which has now been paid. Muse left jail on Monday.
Didn’t the Legislature fix the quick-release bail system? Shouldn’t Muse be in jail for two car theft charges plus evading officers, plus the hand gun under the seat? Isn’t that enough to hold him?
“The short answer is, the ‘fix’ was superficial,” said Amy Demboski, a member of the Anchorage Assembly who also has a talk show on KVNT. “They put a Bandaid on SB 91 to make it through the election and didn’t even come close to fixing it. It is fundamentally flawed.”