Our Women of the Klondike

Grand Marshals (from left) Barbara Dedman Kalen, Inez Soldin Knorr, and Bea Hillery Lingle, all descendants of gold rush families, ride in a Skagway horse buggy during the Fourth of July parade. See more photos on our Independence Day page. Photo by Dimitra Lavrakas

Deadlocked jury gives Paul Taylor a temporary victory

Feds move to retry case on Aug. 27

Paul Taylor, former White Pass & Yukon Route president, is scheduled to go to trial yet again on Aug. 27 in U.S. District Court in Anchorage, with jury selection scheduled for Aug. 24.
Even though his most recent trial ended in a mistrial after the jury deadlocked, acting U.S. Attorney Tim Burgess said the decision to retry was made by the prosecution team, and ultimately by him. Burgess was the prosecuting attorney in Taylor’s initial trial in 1996.
On June 28, the Anchorage jury voted 8-4 to convict on one felony count of lying to federal investigators about an oil spill that occurred at Mile 6 on the railroad tracks in October 1994. They voted 10-2 to acquit on the felony count of altering a 15-inch crack in the pipe down to a two-inches.
“I’ve maintained my innocence since day one, and I don’t want to plead until there’s nothing left of my resources,” said Taylor.
He’s puzzled why the case will go to trial again, as is his lawyer.
“I can’t tell you why they find it fruitful,” said Tim Petumenos, Taylor’s attorney. “It’s been part of the Taylors’ life since 1996. Effectively, he’s been checking in for probation.”
Petumenos said he would continue to press for acquittal.
Jury foreman Trudy Elder, by phone from Anchorage, said she wasn’t comfortable talking about the jury’s action.
“We worked very hard to come to a decision, and we just couldn’t,” she said. “Various people had various reasons. More than one person had reservations. I was sorry we couldn’t reach a decision, but we just couldn’t.”
Witnesses from Skagway were subpoenaed as well as some from Curacao and Los Angeles. The prosecuting attorney was brought in from Washington, D.C.
As the case against Taylor goes into its seventh year, the question of how much the three trials will cost the government could become an issue.
“We have no figure,” said Burgess, when asked about the cost.
While the legal actions against him drag on, Taylor said he and his family are weary of the emotional and financial drain. It has pervaded every facet of their lives, he said.
The speedy trial rule, he feels, has been ignored in this case.
When the Ninth District Court of Appeals overturned Taylor’s conviction last August, the clock should have started ticking in September, Taylor said.
The Ninth District Court, in a 2-1 ruling, reversed Taylor’s 1996 conviction based on an outdated application of the rule that admits testimony of a defendant’s history of wrongdoing.

Ten-foot rule goes to court

Vendors claim they're losing business

Three tour company principals have filed for an injunction against the City of Skagway’s 10-foot rule that prevents selling anything of value on any public street or sidewalk or on private property within the city limits or on private property within 10 feet of a public street or sidewalk. A jury trial is also requested.
The hearing was to be held in July, but has been postponed to Aug. 18 in Juneau.
David Lee, owner of Southeast Tours, David and Jeanne Gonzalez of Frontier Excursions, and Gregory and Billi Jo Clem of Klondike Tours claim they have suffered a significant loss of tour sales since the city put in a single tour broker system this year.
The problem, they say, is that the new tour office, located where the old “shark pit” was near the ramp to the Small Boat Harbor is behind the S.M.A.R.T. bus stop at the Railroad Dock.
That means cruise ship passengers who want to go into town, get on the bus and never see or pass by the tour broker office, except when they’re on the bus.
They also contend the city ordinance violates their First Amendment rights to free speech.
In the meantime, citations issued earlier this summer to Jeanne Gonzalez of Frontier and Brian Lee of Southeast Tours will not be prosecuted until a decision is issued after the hearing in August.
“The future of Skagway’s future in the visitor industry is assured as long as we don’t screw it up,” said City Manager Bob Ward at the council’s June 21 meeting. “If we have to give in to the 10-foot rule, that’s opening the gates to screwing it up.”
But tour operators don’t see it that way.
“It obviously doesn’t sit well with us to pass legislation that takes 20 to 30 percent of our property and renders it useless,” said Dave Gonzalez. “It violates my First Amendment rights.”
With the moratorium on the rule in place, he said they could go back to using the porch outside their building on Broadway as they always have. He wasn’t sure how much they’ve lost in sales since the rule went into effect, but hopes to have those numbers by the time the hearing is held.

A wish with a twist

Ivory thief was caperone for Make-A-Wish child

When a boy from Northern Ireland made a dying wish to pan for gold in Skagway, his uncle attempted to collect on the town’s riches as well.
While chaperoning his nephew’s trip to Skagway through a Make-A-Wish Foundation, Christopher Daniel “Gus” Lynch, burglarized Inhofe Carver’s Gallery of a $4,200 ivory-handle dagger, four necklaces, 32 pendants and a camera, Skagway Police Chief Dennis Spurrier said. The loot was valued at $5,528.
After panning for gold with his nephew June 20, Lynch visited Skagway drinking establishments to mine for gold of the liquid kind and broke into the gallery on Broadway between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, Spurrier said.
Police received the report of a bleeding, intoxicated man in the street at 5:09 a.m., June 21, Spurrier said.
While Officer R.J. Ely was investigating, he noticed the gallery’s glass door had been kicked in, blood splattered on the floor and the gallery looted, Spurrier said.
Apparently, Lynch cut his hand on the dagger, which was displayed on a walrus jawbone in the back of the gallery, and dripped blood along the boardwalk to the rest rooms at Mollie Walsh Pond, gallery owner Jack Inhofe said.
Police called Inhofe at 7 a.m. and he came to find his gallery vandalized, Inhofe said.
“I knew they were gonna get (the items) back,” Inhofe said. “Anybody who’s gonna cut himself doesn’t deserve to get away with it.”
Inhofe told Barbara Moseley, the manager at Moe’s Frontier Bar about the burglary. When Tripp Baker, who also works at Moe’s, stopped by the bar the next morning, he recalled an encounter with Lynch the previous evening.
After his shift at Moe’s, Baker met friends down the street at the Skagway Brewing Co. Baker reported Lynch grabbed one of his friends from behind and demonstrated how he would slash his neck across a pre-existing scar — if he had a knife. That same friend passed by Moe’s the next day and said Lynch had told him he was staying at The White House Bed and Breakfast.
Another friend from the brewpub, Michelle McCormick, also stopped into Moe’s the next morning and said when she left the brewpub, she heard glass breaking and saw Lynch.
Baker called the White House owner, who told him Lynch, his nephew and two others in the Make-A-Wish group were flying out of Skagway at 3 p.m.
Baker then spoke to the gallery’s Stathia Annis.
“While we were having our meeting, I looked at my watch and said, ‘Oh it’s two o’clock, they’re gonna leave,’” Annis said.
Ely and other officers drove to The White House, where they discovered blood on the door knob of Lynch’s room.
“He was an hour from getting away with it — thanks to Tripp (he didn’t),” Inhofe said.
Police questioned Lynch and found some items with him, and he said he stashed some jewelry in a trash can. Sharon Bolton, who lives behind the bed and breakfast, gave written permission for police to search her trash where they found the missing items.
“My trash was picked up the day before so there shouldn’t have been anything in there,” Bolton said.
Lynch was charged with two felonies and transported to Juneau. Public Defender David Seid said his client’s charge was lessened to criminal trespass, a misdemeanor, when he agreed to pay the more than $400 restitution last week.
“He’s admitting to what happened,” Seid said.
Last week, Lynch appeared at a hearing and was barred from entering the United States again and deported to Northern Ireland through Immigration and Naturalization Services, Seid said.
Spurrier said the boy was “very upset” when Lynch was arrested. However, he was able to fulfill the rest of his wish – whale watching in Juneau before he flew home with the two others in the group.
“Not only did he have that problem with his medical...” Spurrier broke off his sentence, expressing the tragedy.
The boy has terminal cancer and dreamed of coming to Alaska, said Paul Allvin, communication director at the Seattle Make-A-Wish Foundation, which allows children suffering terminal diseases to have a wish fulfilled.
The Alaskan Make A Wish coordinated the trip with United Kingdom affiliates, Allvin said.
Annis and Inhofe said they deduced Lynch had been in the store the previous day and noticed the knife because a shade usually blocks the view from the gallery window at night, Annis said.
Lynch broke the bottom half of the door and crawled in underneath the dead bolt, Annis said. He didn’t appear to cut his hand on the glass but on the double blade, 10-inch knife — a cut which required three stitches, she said.
After replacing the door following the burglary, Inhofe spent the night in the store because the new deadbolt had not been properly installed.
Annis said the robbery created no loss of business and the next day they had one of their best business days this summer. She said when police return the knife and the jewelry, which were detained in Skagway as evidence, they will be for sale, although she said she might advertise the knife with its story.
“It’s already been into battle,” she said, laughing. “It worked for justice.”

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