Empire Archives is a series printed every Saturday featuring a short compilation of headline stories in the Juneau Empire from archived editions in 1984, 1994 and 2004.
This week in 1984, convicted murderer Newton Lambert was sentenced to 99 years in prison in Juneau Superior Court and will not be eligible for parole for 50 years. “I suppose this is the worst murder ever committed in this city,” Superior Court Judge Rodger Pegues said as he handed down the sentence. “It was an awful crime.” Lambert, 21, declined to speak on his behalf before the sentence was pronounced. He was convicted of the April 4, 1982, murder of Anne Benolken, 61, in her Franklin Street apartment. She was beaten, stabbed 60 times and sexually assaulted. Lambert was acquitted of the beating and stabbing death of her husband James, who was killed at the same time. He also was sodomized. Defense attorney Tom Findley called the length of the prison term a “death sentence” after arguing his client should be sentenced to 40 years in prison with 10 suspended. After speaking of the drugs and alcohol Lambert took before the murder, Findley said “I don’t offer Newton Lambert’s condition as an excuse, but an observation.”
In 2018, the Alaska Court of Appeals upheld a Superior Court ruling not to test DNA evidence in an earlier appeal in the case. In a 2013 ruling, the Superior Court agreed with the prosecution, ruling that Lambert hadn’t made a convincing enough case to test the DNA.
Original Story: “Lambert sentenced to 99 years in prison,” by Christopher Jarvis. 1/18/1984.
This week in 1994, the name for Juneau’s new middle school, set to open in the fall, is already a controversial subject. The school board’s facilities committee has rejected the top three names received from a parent-staff-student group charged by the board with garnering community input and recommending names for the school. The facilities committee wants to call the building Switzer Creek Middle School. The full board will hear the request at its Feb. 1 meeting. The parents-staff-student group unanimously recommended as their top choice the Tlingit name for the Juneau area, TsUnti KeeHeen. Its second choice was Taku Middle School, after the area’s link to the Taku Tlingit Tribe. Guidelines set by the school last spring require geographic names or characteristics, and prohibit naming schools after people. That thwarted the citizen group’s hopes of naming the building after Native civil rights activist Elizabeth Peratrovich.
Today the building is known as Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School.
Original Story: “What’s in a name?” by Susan S. Christianson. 1/18/1994.
This week in 2004, A draft plan for a new transportation blueprint in Southeast has been released by the state Department of Transportation. The draft update to the Southeast Alaska Transportation Plan divides projects into two time periods: 2004 to 2010 and 2011 to 2025. The controversial Juneau Access Project entails the most significant road project in the 2004-10 component of the plan. DOT projects a road from Juneau to Skagway would cost about $265 million. Another major project in that time frame is a $180 million bridge from Ketchikan to Gravina Island.
Today the road to Skagway remains a topic of discussion only and the also abandoned Ketchikan project is now infamously known as the “Bridge to Nowhere.”
Original Story: “Transport plan draft released,” by Timothy Inklebarger. 1/18/2004.