Crime & Courts

Eddie Burke Jr. reinstated in Iditarod after state drops assault charges against him

Editor’s note: This story has been updated. Find our latest coverage here.

Update 1 p.m. Friday:

Eddie Burke Jr. has been reinstated as a competitor in the 2024 Iditarod, the race committee announced Friday in a Facebook post after state prosecutors dismissed two assault charges against him.

“Additional information was provided to the Iditarod Trail Committee Board today regarding Eddie Burke Jr. Upon reviewing this information, the Board voted to reinstate Mr. Burke as a competitor in the 2024 Iditarod,” the committee said in the post.

Additional information was provided to the Iditarod Trail Committee Board today regarding Eddie Burke Jr.. Upon...

Posted by The Iditarod on Friday, February 23, 2024

Original Thursday story:

Just days after the Iditarod Trail Committee’s governing body said it was disqualifying musher Eddie Burke Jr. for violating the race’s personal conduct standard, state prosecutors dismissed two assault charges against him, effectively closing the case.

Burke, the top-finishing rookie in the 2023 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, faced one felony charge and one misdemeanor stemming from an incident in Anchorage in May 2022. According to charging documents, Burke’s then-girlfriend told police officers responding to a South Anchorage residence that he choked her almost to the point that she lost consciousness. Burke was arrested and released on bail, and for almost two years the case remained pending in the court system.


On Monday, the Iditarod announced in a three-sentence statement that it was disqualifying Burke for violating the race’s rule barring conduct that reflects poorly on the event or its sponsors, though officials did not specify whether the 2022 assault case prompted their decision. A spokesperson for the Iditarod declined to comment further or answer specific questions.

On Thursday, the docket in the case listed both charges as dismissed by the state prosecutor, and the case as closed.

“The victim declined to participate in the prosecution,” Department of Law spokesperson Patty Sullivan wrote Friday in response to questions from the Daily News. “After a thorough review of the evidence in this investigation, the Department of Law determined that it would be unable to prove the assault charges beyond a reasonable doubt to a trial jury. The dismissal date was based on the timing of court proceedings.”

Neither Burke nor the lawyer defending him in the case responded to messages seeking comment.

Iditarod spokesperson Shannon Noonan did not respond to multiple messages Thursday, and it wasn’t clear whether the state’s dismissal of the assault charges affects Burke’s disqualification from this year’s race. It’s also not clear whether Iditarod officials were aware last year of the charges against Burke when they allowed him to compete in the high-profile event.

This story has been updated to include a statement from the Department of Law.

Zachariah Hughes

Zachariah Hughes covers Anchorage government, the military, dog mushing, subsistence issues and general assignments for the Anchorage Daily News. He also helps produce the ADN's weekly politics podcast. Prior to joining the ADN, he worked in Alaska’s public radio network, and got his start in journalism at KNOM in Nome.