123rf.com Stock Photo

123rf.com Stock Photo

Report: Wiretaps netted four murder indictments in 2017

Police and prosecutors conducted four wiretaps in Alaska last year, work that resulted in the indictments of multiple people for murder, a new state report indicates.

On Tuesday, the Alaska Department of Law released its annual report on court-approved wiretaps in the 49th state. The report identified four state wiretaps, two by Alaska State Troopers and two by the Fairbanks Police Department.

The four taps conducted in 2017 are the most authorized since the Alaska Legislature began permitting their state use in 1993. (The federal government has long allowed wiretaps to be conducted here, but only for cases in federal court.)

Limited information is available about the history of state-authorized wiretaps in Alaska; until the Juneau Empire published a story in January revealing the state’s failure to publish a legally required annual report on wiretaps, the state had not reported any information.

Since the story’s publication, the Department of Law has belatedly released reports on 2016 and 2015. Robert Henderson, head of the criminal division of the Department of Law, told the Empire by email that he does not believe any wiretaps were conducted before 2015.

Tuesday’s report indicates the two wiretaps requested by the Fairbanks Police Department were performed starting Feb. 24, 2017 and March 1, 2017. Each lasted two weeks.

Detective Avery Thompson, the policeman who requested the wiretaps, said he was unable to talk about the case connected to them but said it stemmed from a September 2016 incident.

In that month, a shootout at a Fairbanks nightclub killed or injured three people. Three people were arrested in connection with the crime before the end of the second wiretap.

David DeCoeur, the Alaska State Troopers investigator who requested the other two wiretaps of 2017, did not respond to phone calls or emails from the Juneau Empire, and a spokeswoman for the Troopers said they were unable to release more information about the case.

The report indicates his two wiretaps were approved May 15 and lasted 30 days apiece. They resulted in two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of second-degree murder.

Given the number of murders investigated by Alaska State Troopers during 2017, it was not possible to immediately identify which case employed the two wiretaps.

• Contact reporter James Brooks at james.k.brooks@juneauempire.com or call 523-2258.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of June 15

Here’s what to expect this week.

James Whistler, 8, operates a mini excavator during Gold Rush Days on Saturday, June 17, 2023. People young and old were offered a chance to place tires around traffic cones and other challenges after getting a brief introduction to the excavator. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
There’s good reason to be extra charged up for this year’s Juneau Gold Rush Days

Digital registration for logging/mining competitors new for 32nd annual event this weekend.

Glory Hall Executive Director Mariya Lovishchuk points out some of the features of the homeless shelter’s new location a few days before it opens in July of 2021. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire file photo)
Mariya Lovishchuk stepping down after 15 years as executive director of the Glory Hall

Leader who oversaw big changes in Juneau’s homeless programs hopes to continue similar work.

Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people gather in Juneau for the opening of Celebration on June 5. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Federal judge considers lawsuit that could decide Alaska tribes’ ability to put land into trust

Arguments took place in early May, and Judge Sharon Gleason has taken the case under advisement.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Tuesday, June 18, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Monday, June 17, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Workers stand next to the Father Brown’s Cross after they reinstalled it at an overlook site on Mount Roberts on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of Hugo Miramontes)
Father Brown’s Cross is resurrected on Mount Roberts after winter collapse

Five workers put landmark back into place; possibility of new cross next year being discussed.

KINY’s “prize patrol” vehicle is parked outside the Local First Media Group Inc.’s building on Wednesday morning. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Juneau radio station KINY is using AI to generate news stories — how well does it get the scoop?

As trust and economics of news industry continue long decline, use and concerns of AI are growing.

Most Read