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Fairbanks defense attorney accused of carrying metal knuckles

Posted: Thursday, April 11, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A prominent Fairbanks defense attorney has been arrested for producing what authorities called metal fighting knuckles at the beginning of an evidentiary hearing.

Bill Satterberg, who was arrested Monday, contends the so-called weapon is a key chain he bought to use as evidence in the case.

At the beginning of the hearing, District Court Judge Raymond Funk asked for a definition of the weapon Satterberg's client is accused of concealing during a traffic stop last November.

Satterberg produced an item he claims the vendor told him is a kubotan -- a small baton used as a key chain. Kubotans are legal to carry.

The item Satterberg brought to court has a 5-inch-long metal bar that can be gripped in the fist with two 2-inch spikes protruding between the fingers. It can also be ordered on the Internet and is listed as a ninja key chain.

But Alaska State Trooper Brian Wassmann said they're metal fighting knuckles, a weapon that is illegal to possess as well as conceal. Wassman said Satterberg pulled them from a shirt pocket at the hearing.

Wassmann, who was on the witness stand at the time, seized the pink item while Funk was handing it back to Satterberg, and kept it as evidence.

At the hearing Funk ruled to include the original and slightly larger instrument being contested in an upcoming trial. The judge warned Satterberg not to bring his pink version into the courthouse again.

Afterward, Wassmann arrested Satterberg on misdemeanor charges of fourth- and fifth-degree misconduct involving a weapon and carted him off to Fairbanks Correctional Center.

Satterberg immediately put up the $500 for bail and made a phone call from the jail to notify his office of the charges.

On Tuesday, the district attorney's office had not made a decision whether to file charges against Satterberg.

Because the case was still open, Satterberg declined to discuss details of how he presented the item in the courthouse.

''I can assure you there was no intent to break the law on my part and I was there to represent my client with respect to the item we were talking about,'' Satterberg told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

Satterberg said the arrest is the result of a long battle between himself and the trooper.

''I've had trouble with Trooper Wassmann in the past,'' Satterberg said Tuesday. ''The hostility goes back a couple of years.''

Wassmann said he would have arrested anyone for possessing the item.

''Although we do take a little pleasure in arresting him, I would have arrested anyone else,'' Wassmann said. ''I would have handled it the same if it were on the street and someone had this weapon on him.''



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