Kenneth Moto, the suspect in the downtown beating death of Daniel "Shorty" Stewart, was arrested early Monday after a police dog found him hiding in a Midtown shed, ending a manhunt that lasted more than a week.
Moto was arraigned at the Anchorage Correctional Center on manslaughter and assault charges during a turbulent, half-hour court hearing. The mother of one of three beatingvictims, Sylvia Stewart, became so upset while addressing the court that she fainted and had to be carried from the courtroom.
Her son, Daniel "Shorty" Stewart, was a 36-year-old developmentally disabled man. According to police, Stewart was outside the Panhandle Bar downtown early on April 19 when Moto punched him and two others, breaking a woman's jaw. Police say Moto ran from the scene.
Stewart landed in intensive care with a head injury and died on April 22.
Moto was on the run for more than a week. On May 2, he fled on foot from patrol cars behind the Muldoon Fred Meyer.
On Monday, police were searching the 2400 block of Barrow Street, off Fireweed Lane in Midtown, as they investigated an unrelated incident. A police dog found Moto hiding in a shed, officials said. He was arrested just after 4 a.m. on Monday.
From behind a Plexiglas partition on Monday afternoon, he told the judge that he'd been out of jail for only a few months of the past year and had earned no more than $1,000. He was appointed an attorney from the Public Defender Agency.
Sylvia Stewart started her victim statement to the court by saying that "this animal took my son's life."
"I would rather be dead than to see him on the street! God help me!" Stewart said, shortly before she began to collapse at the lectern.
She eventually had to be helped out of the courtroom by family and friends in the audience. Stewart could be heard retching and crying in an adjoining room as her daughter, Tracy Washington, argued on speaker phone that Moto presented a safety and a flight risk.
Few details have surfaced about what led Moto to the assault outside the Panhandle. But documents filed with the court say that he had been turned away from the downtown bar earlier in the night because he seemed drunk.
Prosecutor Michal Stryszak said Moto has a history of attempting to flee police custody and was on felony probation on the night of the fight outside the Panhandle.
Judge Douglas Kossler set Moto's bail at a $200,000 performance bond, which must be paid in cash. An additional $200,000 appearance bond can be posted through a bail bondsman service, which reduces the amount that must be paid up front. To be released on bail, Moto must also find a court-approved third-party custodian, Kossler said.
The spectator benches were full of Shorty supporters. Kenneth Moto's sister sat quietly in the back.
Karen Moto, 50, said the two grew up in a large Inupiat-Japanese family in the Northwest Arctic village of Deering. Kenneth was one of 13 siblings.
Most of the family still lives in Deering, she said, adding that several family members have worked in law enforcement.
Kenneth Moto has lived in Anchorage for decades, she said. He found occasional work as a carpenter but fell in with a bad crowd, she said.
Court records show that Moto has spent much of his adult life in the correctional system.
In the past two decades, he has been charged with 38 crimes ranging from driving while intoxicated to assaulting a police officer. Five of the charges were for felony offenses.
Karen Moto attended the arraignment to support him partly because her brothers in Deering asked her to, she said, but this time she has no intention of stepping up to try and bail her brother out.
"I've lost five vehicles in the past 20 years bailing him out," she said.
After the cluster of news cameras in the parking lot outside the jail dispersed, family members helped a still-wailing Sylvia Stewart into a truck. Karen Moto watched. She feels for the Stewart family, she said.
"I never been much of a churchgoer," she said. "But I'll attend Mass. I want to say something at Mass for them."
Reach Michelle Theriault Boots at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4344.
By MICHELLE THERIAULT BOOTS