Judge asks for more information before granting bail

Posted: Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Kenai judge has requested more information from the defense before she decides if a Soldotna man charged with a slew of felonies -- including sexual abuse of a minor, intent to distribute methamphetamine, and firearm theft -- can be released under the supervision of Alaska Pretrial Services.

James Clarke, 50, was present and in custody during the Thursday morning bail review hearing. Clarke's attorney, Andrew Haas, proposed that his client be released under the strict supervision of Alaska Pretrial Services, a company that monitors defendants outside of jail while they await trial. Haas stated that he would like to get Clarke out of jail before his trial, which is currently scheduled for the week of May 9.

Clarke faces 21 felony charges stemming from an April 2010 search of his and his girlfriend's Soldotna home. According to an affidavit submitted by Alaska State Trooper Jay Sjogren, the search yielded 2.33 ounces of meth, multiple glass pipes and scales, a small scoop, and baggies commonly used to package meth. Also found were four marijuana plants and 13 firearms, three of which were allegedly stolen.

Twelve of the 21 felonies are sexual abuse of a minor or attempted sexual abuse of a minor charges alleging the abuse of a then-14-year-old girl who was residing with Clarke and his girlfriend.

Lisa Hundley, 43, is Clarke's co-defendant and girlfriend; she faces the same drug and firearm theft charges as Clarke in addition to a misdemeanor indecent exposure charge. During Thursday's bail hearing, Haas cited Clarke's medical conditions as a reason for the release proposal. He asked that Clarke be allowed to have contact and possibly live with Hundley -- who is out on bail -- but that the two be disallowed from discussing the case.

Assistant District Attorney Scot Leaders opposed Haas' proposal, saying Clarke's release would be premature. Leaders asked there be a more concrete plan for the medical care Clarke would receive and that he have an established place of residence. He also pointed to Clarke's out-of-state history of violence and status as a flight risk as reasons he opposed the plan.

Judge Anna Moran agreed with Leaders that more information was needed before accepting the pretrial services plan outlined by Aaron Parker, director of APS. Moran asked the defense for a definitive place Clarke would be living, and a doctor's report on Clarke's exact medical conditions. She also noted that the victim's needs and location be taken into account.

Moran advised Haas to file for a continued bail review once he gets more information.

Clarke's bail remains at $50,000 with a third-party custodian. Trial call is set for May 3 with trial set to begin the week of May 9.

Karen Garcia can be reached at karen.garcia@peninsulaclarion.com.

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