FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The attorney for accused trans-Alaska pipeline shooter Daniel Lewis says he will appeal a federal conviction of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Attorney Sue Ellen Tatter told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner that the charge tends to be selectively levied and not applied uniformly.
''The problem with status laws like felon in possession is that they carry a great penalty and the government can choose which to enforce,'' she said. ''That kind of law really fosters discriminating application ... you worry about people being targeted about their race, or who irritate the police.''
A federal grand jury needed less than two hours Friday to find Lewis guilty. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 at sentencing May 6.
He is set to be tried in September on more extensive state charges in connection with the pipeline shooting.
''I'm very happy with the verdict. I think it was a very strong case,'' said prosecutor Karen Loeffler. ''It was, to me, a very well-done investigation.''
The weeklong trial saw 26 witnesses take the stand.
The key prosecution witness was Lewis' brother, Randy Lewis, who told jurors he had been with Daniel Lewis the day the pipeline was shot. He testified Daniel Lewis had been in possession of a .338-caliber hunting rifle and that his brother briefly aimed it at him before turning and shooting the pipeline -- just to see if he could.
''I said, 'What are you shooting at now?' and he said 'I'm just firing away,''' Randy Lewis recounted during court proceedings Tuesday. ''He jacked another round and said, 'I'm going to see if I can shoot a hole in the pipe.'''
Though the focus of the trial was Lewis' possession of the rifle, testimony repeatedly touched on the pipeline shooting, which caused a 285,000-gallon oil spill near Livengood on Oct. 4. Cleanup has cost more than $7 million.
Loeffler said testimony about how the gun was used was an integral part of her case.
''My position is, the gun was used, so somebody had it that day,'' she said. ''My choices of witnesses to call were to prove that Daniel Lewis had that gun.''
Tatter focused the defense case on discrediting Randy Lewis, who acknowledged being an alcoholic. She also tried to demonstrate that he had a history of making up stories to shift blame off himself.
Tatter's questions attempted to open the possibility that Randy Lewis shot the pipeline and possessed the rifle.
Loeffler introduced evidence to back up Randy Lewis' version of events. A DNA expert said the rifle was stained with Daniel Lewis' blood.
''Everything that Randy Lewis said could be corroborated turned out to be true,'' she said.
Tatter said the public nature of the pipeline shooting may have led to the federal charge.
''I think they really wanted to have a federal presence and a state presence,'' she said. ''They wanted to show Alyeska they were responding with a club.''
Loeffler said federal felon in possession charges are not uncommon. The charge against Daniel Lewis was a result of his eight felony convictions and dozens of misdemeanor criminal cases.
''A lot of it depends on a person's criminal history,'' she said. ''If they're dangerous to the public, we're concerned.''
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