Crime & Courts

Charges dismissed in Anchorage library stabbing after suspect again found incompetent for trial

An Anchorage judge on Wednesday dismissed assault charges against a man accused of a random stabbing at the Loussac Library after finding him incompetent to stand trial, making dismissal the only legal option.

The decision marked the second time in six months that an incompetence finding led to dropped charges against 33-year-old Corey Ahkivgak, who is accused of having attacked three people since December.

Ahkivgak is expected to remain jailed until at least early next week. A prosecutor is filing a petition that would place him at a mental health care facility.

The February assault at the library in Midtown Anchorage left Angela Harris with a spinal cord injury that’s rendered her unable to walk.

Harris was standing near the book drop of the Loussac Library with her boyfriend when Ahkivgak walked up to the couple from behind and stabbed her in the middle of the back with a Leatherman multitool, according to charges filed in the case. He ran from the library and was arrested about a mile away several hours later, police said.

He had been released from custody about a month earlier, after his arrest in December resulting from similarly unprovoked attacks on two women in Midtown, moments apart.

Superior Court Judge Josie Garton dismissed those charges after determining Ahkivgak was not “restorable to competency” — able to understand the criminal process or assist in his own defense. This can happen when someone has a brain defect, cognitive delay, dementia or an illness not susceptible to treatment.

Garton also presided over Wednesday’s hearing.

Legally, in both cases, the judge had no other options.

State law dictates that Ahkivgak be released from custody if he’s not fit to stand trial, saying that “either civil commitment proceedings shall be instituted or the court shall order the release of the defendant.”

Harris during Wednesday’s competency hearing called the dismissal heartbreaking and frustrating, a sentiment echoed by the prosecutor.

“I have not been able to live in my home with my children until my home is modified to accommodate my disability as a result of him attacking me,” she told Garton.

Harris asked the judge to deny Ahkivgak’s release. He poses a threat to everyone, especially women, she said. And if released again, he could hurt someone else again.

“As he is getting increasingly more violent, who will be responsible when he’s released and murders someone?” she asked. “Violent offenders can be dismissed and released because they are unable to understand their charges, yet we as victims are forced to live a life that we cannot understand.”

Assistant District Attorney Lyubov Bartnitskaia said she plans to file a petition that, if approved, would place Ahkivgak on an involuntary commitment to a mental health facility as long as he is considered to be a danger to himself or society.

“To be honest, this is an incredibly frustrating, helpless position for a prosecutor — our sole function is to ensure the safety of the community and to hold offenders accountable and we can’t do that today,” Bartnitskaia said.

[Previous coverage: An Anchorage man found incompetent to stand trial for assault was released, then randomly stabbed a woman at the library, charges say]

Ahkivgak has filtered in and out of the criminal justice system for the last 14 years with convictions ranging from trespassing to assault. Several court documents describe him as having a mental illness.

A doctor at the Alaska Psychiatric Institute was ordered to examine Ahkivgak after his December arrest and again after the stabbing. Both times, officials said it was deemed that he was unlikely to be restored to competency.

Charges against Ahkivgak of first-degree assault, fifth-degree criminal mischief and violating conditions of release will be officially dismissed next week. That gives prosecutors enough time to file civil commitment paperwork before he is released from custody.

Garton told Harris she does believe that Ahkivgak is dangerous “based on his conduct, what he did to you and that pattern of escalation that he was engaging in.”

Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, focusing on breaking news. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota and previously helped cover the Nebraska Legislature for The Associated Press. Contact her at twilliams@adn.com.

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