PALMER -- Citing a violation of a defendant's constitutional rights at trial, an Alaska appellate court has overturned the criminal conviction of a man accused of rape twice in the Valley, twice in Anchorage and once in Glennallen.
The case in question surrounds the Glennallen accusation. According to a ruling penned by state Appeals Court Judge Joel Bolger and released Friday, the legal case began in the summer of 2007 at the time of a 4,000-mile bicycle tour from Houston, Texas, to Anchorage.
Some of the cyclists stopped in Glennallen for food before resuming their tour. At Mile 180 of the Glenn Highway, a female participant noticed Micah Beshaw running toward the road trying to get her attention.
"When she turned around, he told her that his vehicle was stuck and that he needed help pushing it out," Bolger wrote. The cyclist was skeptical and wanted to wait for her companions. "Beshaw suddenly grabbed (her) arm and began to drag her toward the tree line."
In trying to flee the scene, Beshaw wound up hitting a cyclist with a pickup truck.
By the time the case made it to trial, prosecutors had discovered quite a bit about Beshaw's past.
In September 2001, he had been charged with multiple rapes of a woman whom he spotted walking home along the Glenn Highway just north of Palmer. He wiped the woman clean in an attempt to destroy evidence.
That same month at the McDonald's in Palmer, Beshaw allegedly posed as a woman's co-worker to lure her into his truck and rape her. The woman identified Beshaw as her attacker.
Beshaw was charged with both Valley rapes, but entered a no-contest plea to a single charge resulting from what he did on the Glenn Highway. He was sentenced to eight years in prison.
At the time of the Palmer case, Anchorage police also flagged him as a suspect in two rapes in Anchorage.
In February 2001, a woman said she was waiting for friends at Anchorage's Fifth Avenue mall when Beshaw approached her, pretending to be a security guard. He raped her in an empty room, drove her away, held her captive for three days and raped her multiple times.
In October 2000, a woman alleged that Beshaw posed as a security officer, accused her of selling drugs, then raped her in an elevator room, wiped her down and left her handcuffed to a pole.
Frontiersman news stories from the time say the Anchorage allegations came up as Beshaw's case made its way through the court system, but that criminal charges "never materialized."
Beshaw, having apparently behaved in prison well enough for early release, was on probation for the 2001 rape conviction when he was accused of trying to rape the cyclist.
Bolger wrote that evidence of the four earlier rapes was admitted in Beshaw's trial. Bolger ruled that the admission of the evidence was within the rules of criminal trials, but the way it was admitted was out of bounds.
Prosecutors put into evidence a sworn statement from the investigating trooper -- Leonard Wallner, now a sergeant stationed in Anchorage -- and documents showing Beshaw had been convicted, Bolger wrote. But Beshaw had a right to confront his accuser in court, which he couldn't do because no witness was called to testify to the evidence.
Bolger's ruling requires that Beshaw either be let off the hook for the 2007 rape conviction or that prosecutors retry him.
A separate part of the ruling throws out his conviction for kidnapping on the grounds that there was no evidence showing Beshaw used the force necessary to justify a kidnapping charge. Prosecutors will not be able to bring the kidnapping charge if they choose to retry Beshaw.
Yet a third part of the ruling upholds another of Beshaw's convictions, saying that after he hit the cyclist with his pickup he was rightly charged and convicted for assault.