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Track Palin pleads guilty to reduced charge, enters Anchorage court program for veterans

Track Palin, right, arrives Monday at Anchorage Veterans Court in the Boney Courthouse with attorney Patrick Bergt. (Bill Roth / ADN)

Track Palin pleaded guilty in an Anchorage courtroom Tuesday to a charge of misdemeanor criminal trespass stemming from a December altercation with his father at the family's home in Wasilla.

The plea officially enrolls Palin in a therapeutic court program for military veterans, in which participants agree to work to better themselves in exchange for reduced criminal penalties.

District Court Judge David Wallace presides over the Track Palin change-of-plea hearing. (Bill Roth / ADN)

The trouble stems from a Dec. 16 incident in which Track Palin showed up at his parents' home to confront his father, who met him at the door with a pistol, according to the original charging documents in the case.

Track Palin broke a window, entered the home and assaulted Todd Palin, leaving him bleeding from the head, according to the charges. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Track's mother, called police.

Palin was originally charged with felony burglary along with criminal mischief and misdemeanor assault.

If he successfully completes the requirements of Anchorage Veterans Court — including months of drug and alcohol testing, counseling and weekly court appearances — he will be sentenced to 10 days in jail. He will serve one year if he fails to complete the program.

Palin also tried veterans court in a 2016 domestic violence case but didn't finish, court records show. His criminal record includes a conviction for a fourth-degree misdemeanor weapons misconduct charge from the case.

On Tuesday, the 29-year-old called in from Wasilla to enter his plea instead of appearing in person in court, where reporters — including some working for a British tabloid who had flown from Los Angeles — had gathered.

Palin's attorney had earlier argued for media to be kept out of the veterans court sessions, which require participants to speak about their progress in open court.

The therapeutic court program, which typically takes nine months to a year to complete, is the harder choice for someone facing Palin's charges, said Anchorage District Attorney Rick Allen. Participants have to "jump through a lot of hoops" to make it through, he said.

"The easiest thing for him to have done would have been to plead guilty, do a little jail time and be done. The more rigorous thing is to go through a court like (veterans) court. That's what people who are thinking more long term and really want to better themselves do."

Anchorage District Attorney Rick Allen speaks to the media Tuesday after the Track Palin change-of-plea hearing in the Boney Courthouse. (Bill Roth / ADN)

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