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AK Beat: Driver accused in SXSW deaths has prior conviction in Alaska

Alaska Dispatch
Byron Mallott campaign

SXSW drunk driving suspect has Alaska history: The Texas resident who killed two people and injured 23 others during a Thursday morning hit-and-run at the South by Southwest music festival pleaded guilty to a drunk driving charge in Alaska in 2011. Rashad Charjuan Owens was charged in October of that year with a DUI and leaving the scene of an accident, though the latter charge was dismissed. He was also charged with minor consuming alcohol, which was dismissed, and criminal mischief while living in Alaska. Rolling Stone reports the music festival incident started after a police officer began checking for DWIs. “The suspect, fearing arrest, weaved his silver Toyota sedan through a gas station and sped off, driving the wrong way down a one-way street. The officer turned on his lights and pursued the suspect. A second officer stationed at a nearby barricade was forced to move to avoid being struck by the suspect, who proceeded to further accelerate, drive through the barricade and strike multiple pedestrians.” Austin Chief of Police Art Acevedo told KVUE in Austin that Owens' actions were intentional. The 21-year-old is being charged with two counts of capital murder and 23 counts of aggravated assault. SXSW organizers have said the festival will continue as planned.

BP and feds are square: Oil major BP has reached an administrative agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that will bring an end to the company's suspension from consideration for government contracts. The suspension was issued after the disaster that struck its leased Deepwater Horizon rig, killing 11 workers and spilling an estimated 4.9 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. An announcement from BP said that under the terms and conditions of the agreement, the company has agreed to a set of safety and operations, ethics and compliance, and corporate governance requirements, including those contained in the remedial order stemming from BP’s 2012 Plea Agreement with the US Department of Justice and Final Judgment Order with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. BP will also dismiss the lawsuit it filed against the EPA in federal court in Texas for improper statutory disqualification and suspension.

Tent fire injures two:  Two soldiers from Fort Wainwright remain hospitalized in stable condition with injuries suffered when their tent caught on fire at about 4 a.m. during a training exercise near Eielson Air Force Base Thursday. The soldiers from the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division were flown to Harbor View Medical Center in Seattle. An Army press release said a third soldier in the tent rescued the two injured soldiers and ran for help. Other soldiers taking part in the exercise in the Yukon Training Area put out the fire and treated the two until an ambulance arrived.

Death in the family puts Treadwell campaign on hold: U.S. Senate candidate Mead Treadwell announced that his campaign staff will be rescheduling political events for the next week or so, after his brother-in-law died of heart failure on Wednesday while skiing in Girdwood. “He leaves behind two young children and a wife,” Treadwell said in a prepared statement. “As family comes to Alaska over the coming days to celebrate his life, I will be with them.” Treadwell is running for the Republican nomination in one of the nation’s most contested races, with Democratic Sen. Mark Begich the target of national groups that hope to return the Senate to Republican hands.

Troopers investigating Palmer homicide: Alaska State Troopers say they responded to a report Wednesday around midnight of a man who’d been shot and killed near Mile 52 of the Glenn Highway in Palmer. Forty-five-year-old Frank L. Pushruk of Palmer was located and confirmed dead, and troopers are treating his death as a homicide. The State Medical Examiner’s Office is conducting an autopsy. Troopers say the investigation is continuing. According to online court records, Pushruk had about two decades of misdemeanor and felony charges in Anchorage and Palmer.

Mallott campaign pokes at Parnell with 'leaked' board nomination form: The Byron Mallott campaign for governor came out on the offensive Wednesday morning, issuing a snide and unusual attack on Gov. Sean Parnell’s stubborn attempts to appoint a Californian with deep roots in the oil industry to the state review board that sets the value of the trans-Alaska pipeline. The sarcastic press release came before news broke that Californian Dennis Mandell had withdrawn his application to serve on the State Assessment Review Board. Now, Mandell won't be considered by the Legislature. But a second oil company executive Parnell would like to appoint to the board, Bernard Washington of Anchorage, remains up for consideration. The press release from the Democratic candidate pokes fun at the governor’s pro-industry leanings. In it, the Mallott campaign presents a new application form the Parnell administration is using for board candidates in order to ensure they have the proper qualifications. The fake draft form the Mallott campaign says it is "leaking" asks candidates to circle their employers. But it only gives four options: ConocoPhillips, Exxon, Shell or BP. It asks them to circle their occupation, and only gives three choices: Lobbyist, Oil Industry Consultant, Oil Executive. It also asks for the state of residence, and says the candidate need not be from Alaska. Before news of Mandell's withdrawal broke Wednesday morning, the governor had said he wouldn't back down from the appointment. Mandell, from Salinas, Calif., is a former Arco executive. In a moment of seriousness in the press release, Mallott said, “The Alaska Legislature is preparing to convene in joint session to confirm the governor's appointees. I call upon legislators to evaluate each nominee by asking: Will this person represent the public interest over special interests?”

Anchorage man allegedly stabs wife in attempted murder: A 73-year-old Anchorage man was arrested for attempted murder after he alleged stabbed his wife during an argument, Anchorage Police Department Jennifer Castro wrote in a press release Thursday morning. Police dispatch received a call Wednesday evening around 6:30 p.m. from a woman who said that her husband, John Marshall Bagley, had stabbed her outside of their residence at the 13000 block of Back Road, near the Old Seward Highway in South Anchorage. The pair had allegedly gotten into an argument, and she had tried to leave the residence when she slipped on the ice and fell. Bagley then stabbed her while she was lying on the ground. A neighbor walking by the residence saw the assault and fired into the air to get Bagley’s attention, who stopped the assault and followed the neighbor’s instructions until police arrived, the release states. The woman was taken to an Anchorage hospital with life-threatening injuries, where she remained Thursday morning in critical but stable condition. Bagley was arrested and charged with attempted murder.

Coast Guard calls off search for overboard fisherman: Late Wednesday, the Coast Guard suspended its search for a man who fell overboard from a fishing vessel in the Bering Sea. the 42-year-old man went overboard from the Newport, Ore.-based Seeker Wednesday morning when the vessel was about 10 miles north of Unimak Island in the eastern Aleutians. A search that included the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley, Coast Guard helicopters and good Samaritan crews covered a search area of about 64 square miles in 10 hours, the Coast Guard said in a press release. During the day Wednesday, searchers encountered 35 mph winds and 10-foot seas.

$1 million to digitize Stevens’ papers: Gov. Sean Parnell announced Wednesday that he will submit a budget amendment seeking an additional $1 million dollars to help pay for costs associated with preserving, digitizing and granting public access to the documents of the late Sen. Ted Stevens. The Ted Stevens Papers Project is housed at the Rasmuson Library at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and a press release from Gov. Parnell’s office said it consists of about 4,400 cubic feet of files, plus thousands of documents in other media, such as films, photographs and video tapes, in about 4,700 boxes. Parnell’s release said the money would “act as a catalyst for additional private funding.”

The Barrow pizza-delivery guy’s ride: What car would you use to deliver pizzas in Barrow? As the Wall Street Journal’s Autos section discovered, your choice might not be all that different from a lot of pizza drivers elsewhere: a used Hyundai Accent. As East Coast Pizzeria co-owner Aleksandar Joksic, explains to the Wall Street Journal, with gas at $6 a gallon, you go for something with good fuel economy. Perhaps of more interest to WSJ’s Outside readers are the measures Joksic takes to preserve his vehicle and keep it running -- measures that will be familiar to many Alaskans.

Shell's U.S. investments will be 20 percent lower in 2014: Royal Dutch Shell will cut its capital investment in the U.S. by 20 percent for 2014, according to an Associated Press report published by Fuel Fix. That figure includes cuts resulting from the company’s decision not to drill in the Arctic waters off Alaska this year in the wake of a court decision that puts some of the leases sold to the company under further scrutiny. That figure also includes a shale play in Texas, where the company plans to get out of investments after taking a $2.1 billion write-down last year, Shell CEO Ben Van Beurden said in a conference call.