The Alaska Department of Law is defending their actions regarding what basically amounted to "a pass" for a man indicted on charges related to threatening a woman's life and choking her unconscious before raping her. 34-year-old Justin Scott Schneider will do no jail time, but the plea deal that allows this has caused reverberations across the nation.
A movement to oust Anchorage Superior Court Judge Michael Corey has grown online in the past days. In between the Judge's signing off on the "no jail" plea and Anchorage Assistant District Attorney Andrew Grannik literally referring to the plea deal as "a pass" it's not hard to see how people would be upset.
Schneider was not charged for kidnapping or the sex-related charges, rather the former air-traffic controller will only for second-degree assault. The victim, an Alaskan Native woman, was not present during the hearing.
Judge Corey's tenure in office will depend on a November ballot. Considering the proximity to election day, it's likely that this experience will have left a bad taste in the mouth of several Alaskans.
Schneider did lose his job at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. This "tragedy" was referred to as a "life sentence" by assistant DA Grannik. Gee, with DA's like these, who needs a defense attorney? Considering the likelihood of PTSD and other lingering issues that can occur after an attacker threatens your life, chokes you unconscious and rapes you, I'd say the victim may have gotten the short end on the stick regardless of how difficult the whole "ordeal" has been on Schneider.
In light of immense public outcry, John Skidmore, criminal services director, has made a statement saying he has reviewed that case and that it was "consistent with, and reasonable, under current sentencing laws in Alaska."
Skidmore defended the kidnapping charges being dropped because proving kidnapping required "that the victim was 'restrained' or moved against his or her will," the department statement said. Because the woman willingly got into Schneider's car and drove to the attack location, the criminal charge of kidnapping "could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt."
The victim, a 25-year-old woman, was picked up at a gas station in Anchorage, but according to charging documents, there was no exchange of money or sex involved. She had told Schneider she was trying to get a ride to her boyfriend's place in Muldoon.
Anchorage Daily News reported that Schneider "immediately and violently grabbed her neck in a front choke hold with both hands and told her if she screamed, he'd kill her," Anchorage police detective Brett Sarber wrote in a sworn affidavit. "The man kept squeezing her neck harder, and then told her that he was indeed going to kill her."
The woman passed out "thinking she was going to die," and woke up covered in ejaculate with Schneider standing over her, zipping his pants, Sarber wrote. He told her "he needed her to believe she was going to die so that he could be sexually fulfilled…"
Schneider was given time served for the time he spent wearing an ankle monitor on house arrest under his wife's supervision.
<a href="http://www.law.alaska.gov/press/releases/2018/DAO/092118-Schneider.html">As per yesterday's press release</a>, "Mr. Schneider’s offensive physical contact with bodily fluid such as semen is not categorized as a sex crime under Alaska law." That's right, he won't even have to register as a sex offender.
Neither Grannick, the assistant DA nor Schneider's defense returned Anchorage Daily's request for a comment.
As far as Schneider's literal get out of jail free plea deal goes, the state has clarified that the word "pass" was being "misunderstood." It referred only to how Alaska law allowed for such a lenient sentence "based on a thorough review of the facts of the case."
The prosecutor, however, felt that Schneider needed sex offender treatment and "the only way to achieve that result was to have Mr. Schneider agree to the probation conditions," according to the state.
Assistant General Kaci Schroeder has confirmed that having Skidmore weigh in directly on a sentencing decision is unusual.
"It's not a regular occurrence … but when things are elevated or there's complaints then those things get brought to his attention," Schroeder said.