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Alaska and Yukon Headlines
Musk Ox Farm Director Mark Austin is responsible for the largest (and possibly only), modern domestication experiment. For a number of years, he has been raising musk ox in Alaska’s Mat-Su Valley.
Austin first came to Alaska in college and quickly fell in love with the opportunities and lifestyle provided by living on, what he calls, “the fringe of society.”
INDIE ALASKA is an original video series produced by Alaska Public Media in partnership with PBS Digital Studios.
The weekly videos will capture the diverse and colorful lifestyles of everyday Alaskans at work and at play. Together, these videos will present a fresh and authentic look at living in Alaska.
Jury deliberations were set to resume on Friday in the David Paul homicide trial. The last of the witnesses took the stand on Thursday, followed by the judge’s usual instructions to the jury, closing arguments, and the excusal of alternates on the panel.
The jury of six men and six women sent out a note after about a half-hour of deliberations asking if they reach a verdict on one charge, then do they need to reach a verdict on the other?
After conferring with attorneys, Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg sent back a response asking the jury to please consult a particular set of jury instructions and decide each count separately.
The 24-year old Paul faces one count of murder in the second degree with extreme indifference to the value of human life, and one count of manslaughter. Prosecutors believe that Paul caused the death, possibly by shaking, of Rian Orr, the four-month old daughter of his then-girlfriend Jaki Orr.
The last witness called to the stand on Thursday was Katrina Houston. Paul and the Orrs stayed with Houston after Rian was born, and David Paul and Jaki Orr cared for Houston’s two children while she was at work.
“He fed the baby. He changed the baby. He did everything. He was kind of at her beck and call,” said Houston after she was asked about how Paul took care of Rian.
“Did David get frustrated with those obligations?” asked public defender Eric Hedland.
“No, not that I ever saw. Never raised his voice at all,” answered Houston.
Houston testified that Jaki Orr seemed to suffer from post-partum depression. Paul hand-fed her while she laid on the coach.
Before the defense rested, David Paul was asked the usual set of questions asked of every defendant during a criminal trial.
“Now, your lawyer has indicated that it’s your intention to rest the defense case without taking the stand and testifying. Is that your decision?” asked Judge Pallenberg.
“Yes, it’s my decision,” answered Paul.
“Anybody threatening you with anything, or putting pressure on you to get you not to testify?”
“You feel like it’s your free and voluntary choice?”
“Yes, it is.”
Most of the day on Thursday was taken up by closing arguments with the prosecution taking up a total of an hour-and-45 minutes, and the defense spending a little over an hour to make their case. Prosecution gets the first opportunity to talk to the jury, followed by the defense, and then comes the prosecution’s rebuttal.
Much of the case against David Paul is circumstantial. Rian Orr’s brain injury became apparent on August 9, 2010. In addition to chest bruising, it was later discovered that the baby also suffered from a thigh bone fracture and three rib fractures, but there was little agreement presented at trial on what or who caused those injuries.
Paul and Orr apparently were the only two adults who cared for Rian, and Paul was identified as a potential suspect before the baby was even medivacked to Seattle. Two significant pieces of evidence include police interrogations with Paul that were conducted eleven months apart. In both, Paul seems to confess that he accidentally dropped the baby while entering the bathroom for a morning feeding. That was followed by a quick, almost reflexive shake to get the baby to stop crying.
“I am in sort of an awkward position,” said assistant District Attorney Angie Kemp. “No, we absolutely do not believe everything that the defendant has said, and the ever-evolving nature of his statements are reasonable in light of that.”
During his closing arguments, Hedland turned and walked over to the defense table to address his client as he explained those recorded statements.
And I would be the first to say that I wish you hadn’t made them. Because we wouldn’t be here if you hadn’t, right? (Addressing jury again) You can take all this noise, everything we did for four weeks… If Mr. Paul doesn’t make those statements, then we’re not here. We are not here. And, the State says ‘We don’t even believe the statements. The statements are only relevant for the pieces that we like, and to prove some other thing that we don’t know about.’”
Hedland displayed an M.C. Escher sketch of perpetually flowing water to demonstrate the prosecution’s apparent efforts to make facts fit the cliché of Shaken Baby Syndrome, or Paul as a frustrated parent who was at wits end. He said that no one testified about what Paul said had happened to cause Rian’s injuries. An example would include a possible contusion or skull fracture if the baby had actually fallen on her head as Paul had described. Hedland also said that Jaki Orr was never investigated for her own statements or for possibly causing Rian’s injuries.
The police didn’t look at any of this. They didn’t care about any of that. That is confirmation bias. That lends itself to what we were talking about during jury selection with the availability heuristic. ‘I have any idea in my mind of what I want to be true. I’m going to pull in all of the things that fit that and disregard the things that don’t.’ So, when David says some innocuous thing, how is that viewed? It’s viewed in light that we want him to be the person who did this, or we’ve decided that he’s the person who did this.”
During her rebuttal, Kemp dismissed the various defense experts who were called to the stand by the defense.
So, are we just guessing? Or, is this kid really, truly the most unlucky kid? Did Rian get struck by lightning twenty times?”
The experts testified about the chronic or old fractures, signs of a recurring or chronic subdural hematoma, and brain damage without an expected neck, spine, or skull injury,
Did she have all of these things going on with her? Is that a reasonable conclusion? The part of what is reasonable to draw from all of this is that the notion of red herrings and throwing up as many things as you can possibly think of. But that’s not good science either.”
Kemp was also outwardly disturbed earlier by the psychologist called in to describe the possibility of false confessions which, in her view, seemed to invalidate or preclude the jury’s role in evaluating the credibility of witness testimony.
Start of deliberations
One man and one woman on the jury panel were randomly selected as alternates and excused from the trial. Judge Pallenberg thanked them for their four weeks of service, and recommended that they seek court-funded counseling if they desire it. The trial contained particularly gruesome autopsy photographs that were disturbing to most jurors. The remaining six men and six women retired to the jury room to begin deliberations at about 3:30 p.m. on Thursday.
Before the jury began considering the case, Hedland moved again for a motion of acquittal on the remaining charges. Paul faces one count of manslaughter and one count of murder in the second degree with extreme indifference to the value of human life. But Judge Pallenberg denied the most recent acquittal motion on the manslaughter charge and, again, deferred a decision on the remaining murder charge.
A charge of murder in the second degree with intent or knowledge that it would cause serious injury or death was thrown out earlier in the trial.
As for the remaining second degree murder charge, jurors must determine whether Paul knew or was aware that his conduct would cause the death of Rian Orr. Some of the factors include Paul’s knowledge of the risk, the magnitude of potential harm, and any efforts to minimize the risk.
On the manslaughter charge, jurors must determine whether Paul was reckless or whether he was aware and consciously disregarded a substantial and unjustifiable risk in his conduct that would result in the death of Rian Orr.
Jurors were also instructed that if they determine that Paul caused Rian Orr’s earlier injuries, then they can consider those injuries while determining Paul’s state of mind or whether his actions led to her death.
In the wake of several high-profile cases of alleged scale-tamperingby Bering Sea groundfish vessels, the National Marine Fisheries Service is revising its regulations for weighing fish at-sea. The new measures are aimed at making it more difficult for vessels to under-report their catch.
The Bering Sea’s large catcher-processors weigh their harvest as it heads to the processing line on what’s known as a flow-scale – a section of conveyor belt that takes dozens of measurements per second. When properly calibrated, flow-scales give fisheries managers a very accurate estimate of the amount of fish being harvested. But like all scales, they can be manipulated.
“I’m hesitant to lay out exactly how one could tamper with a scale.”
That’s Alan Kinsolving. He’s in charge of at-sea measurement for the National Marine Fisheries Service, and helped draft the new regulations. As he explained to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council at its meeting this month, there are lots of ways that his office works to keep boats honest – they only approve a limited number of scale models, do thorough inspections of the scales annually, and make sure they’re calibrated daily against a known weight.
“Unfortunately, none of this inherently prevents vessel owners or vessel crew from fraudulently misusing scale equipment on the boat,” Kinsolving says.
He told the Council that one of the biggest loopholes in the current regulations is a provision that allows scales to be off by as much as three percent without penalty.
“I take a look at those results on the boats each year when I’m out on them, and in most cases, for most boats, the majority really do try to keep those numbers as close to zero as possible,” Kinsolving says. “However, the truth is that you do have some that seem to believe that three percent is a goal, rather than a max.”
With the vessels processing hundreds of tons of fish a day, Kinsolving says three percent underreporting can add up to a lot of fish that isn’t being accounted for. He says if boats were required to report the results of their calibrations daily, it would be easier to spot vessels trying to game the system.
“And if we do have a boat that is indeed pushing those limits, to try to kind of rein them in before the full year is up.”
Kinsolving also wants to expand video monitoring of the fish-weighing area, to make it more difficult for anyone to tamper with the scale, undetected.
“We have video on the majority of the boats that weigh catch at sea, and extending that system so that we can keep a close eye on that critical point in our catch accounting system where all that catch is weighed, it would not be technologically difficult, and I believe that it would significantly reduce the potential for fraud.”
In testimony to the Council, industry representatives mostly supported the proposed changes. Chad See, the Executive Director of the Freezer Longline Coalition, asked Kinsolving to tweak a proposal that would shift how vessels schedule their annual exams, but said that in general, he thought the updated regulations would be positive.
“Many of those proposals are probably well within the… are needed, and within the realm of what the agency needs to do – and can do – to improve technology and recognize new technologies.”
The changes could start being implemented as soon as January 2015.
Amlan Ganguly is a lawyer-turned-social entrepreneur who has transformed some of the poorest slums of Kolkata by empowering children to become leaders in improving health and sanitation. Using street theater, dance and data as their weapons, the children have cut malaria and diarrhea rates in half, increased polio vaccination rates and turned garbage dumps into playing fields. Instead of feeling powerless and doomed to perpetuate the cycle of poverty, these children are developing the tools and attitudes to create opportunities for themselves and their communities.
- TV: Monday, 6/17 at 9:00pm
Here’s the music playlist from Traveling Music with Shonti Elder. All tracks played are listed below in the following format:
- Song Title
- Artist / Composer
- CD Title
Fingers To The Bone
Brown Bird / David Lamb
Salt for Salt
Independent – Supply and Demand
Fleet Foxes / Robin Pecknold
Independent – Sub Pop
Things That Scare Me
Neko Case / Neko Case
Independent – Anti
Bearfoot (Bluegrass) / Analisa Tornfelt
Doors and Windows
Alison Krauss and Union Station (Dan Tyminski) / Peter Rowan
Boston and St. Johns
Great Big Sea / Alan Doyle
Shiny and The Spoon
Black Nag / Jordan Neff and Amber Nash
Independent – Shiny and the Spoon
Antje Duvekot / Antje Duvekot
Big Dream Bullevard
Black Wolf Records
Crooked Still / Gillian Welch
Crooked Still Live
Independent – Crooked Still
Sarah Jarosz / Sarah Jarosz
Song Up in Her Head
Your Rocky Spine
Great Lake Swimmers / Tony Dekker
A Widow’s Toast
Fox Confessor Brings The Flood
Independent – Anti
Look at Miss Ohio
Blind Pilot / Gillian Welch
Itunes session EP live
Cool as I Am
Barnard Bacchantae / Dar Williams
Jills of All Trades
When a psychic is found murdered, Inspector Lewis and DS Hathaway discover that the victim is really an Oxford psychology research fellow. As they probe further, the truth behind the psychic’s double life unravels, revealing numerous suspects.
- TV: Sunday, 6/16 at 8:00pm