Jury convicts accused pipeline shooter of burglary

Posted: Friday, April 19, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Daniel Carson Lewis, facing charges he shot a hole in the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, is already making regular trips to court on separate, unrelated cases.

A Superior Court jury last week found Lewis guilty of felony burglary and theft charges. On Wednesday, a District Court jury acquitted him of a misdemeanor fourth-degree assault charge.

Lewis, 38, faces up to 22 years in prison on charges related to the Oct. 4 pipeline incident and a decade more after being convicted on a related federal charge. With last week's conviction, he faces an additional 11 years.

The felony charges stemmed from a Sept. 13 burglary in Fairbanks. Someone threw a tire through a temporary U-Haul building and broke in. A safe containing about $200 was taken from the building, and someone found the keys to the U-Haul fleet and drove off in a 2001 GMC U-Haul truck.

The opened safe was recovered off the Old Steese Highway. The truck was found crashed in a ditch at around 24 Mile Elliott Highway.

Police linked Lewis to the case through a DNA sample they took after his arrest on the pipeline incident. Lewis was indicted in the U-Haul case along with 38-year-old Robert Bush.

Lewis was charged with second-degree burglary, first-degree vehicle theft and third-degree theft, while Bush was charged with first-degree vehicle theft.

Lewis and Bush were found guilty of all the charges.

At last week's trial, a DNA expert testified that blood recovered from the crime scene matches Lewis and other blood from the wrecked truck matches Bush.

During his testimony, Lewis said he got drunk and broke the window with the tire then headed off to a bar. He said he later was picked up by Bush, who was driving the stolen truck with the safe in the back.

They will be sentenced Aug. 8.

In the misdemeanor case, Lewis was charged with hitting a supervisor at the North Star Center halfway house in Ester while visiting a resident there, according to defense attorney Robert Noreen. Noreen said Lewis testified and admitted touching the man but described it as a light shove that hardly qualified as an assault. The six-person jury acquitted Lewis.

Lewis is set to go on trial on state felony charges in September. He is charged with shooting a hole in the pipeline near Livengood, pointing a rifle at his brother and driving his ATV while drunk. He also faces a pair of misdemeanor charges.

The pipeline hole ultimately spilled 285,000 gallons of oil and has cost more than $20 million to clean up.

Lewis has already been found guilty of a federal charge, related to the pipeline shooting, of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He is sentencing is scheduled for May 6.

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