Public defender pleads no contest to misdemeanors

Posted: Sunday, April 21, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- An assistant public defender has pleaded no contest in a case that brought down the chief prosecutor of Alaska.

Assistant public defender Wally Tetlow on Friday pleaded no contest to reckless driving and misdemeanor assault arising from an August 2000 collision with a light pole. The assault charge is based on a light injury to a passenger that apparently occurred when the air bag deployed.

Superior Court Judge Jonathan Link gave Tetlow the choice of five days in jail or 40 hours of community service on each count. Tetlow chose community service. His driver's license was suspended for 30 days.

The defense said then-deputy attorney general Cynthia Cooper killed a misdemeanor plea bargain last year and had Tetlow charged with felonies to punish him for defending his clients aggressively against her prosecutors.

Link heard 12 days of testimony late last year. Earlier this month, the judge issued a ruling that called treatment of Tetlow by Cooper and others ''spiteful and malicious.'' Cooper resigned a few days later.

Link threw out the felonies but allowed the state to charge Tetlow with the two misdemeanors that were part of the original plea bargain.

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