Negligent driver sentenced in death of Native leader

Posted: Thursday, June 15, 2000

JUNEAU (AP) -- A man charged in the traffic death of a Juneau Native leader has been sentenced to two years in prison with 18 months suspended.

Trevor Church, 30, was originally charged with felony criminally negligent homicide and fourth-degree assault in connection with the death of Andrew ''John'' Hope Jr., 76, and injuries to Hope's wife, Hazel, 57, on Oct. 6.

Church pleaded no contest in March to criminally negligent homicide. Six months in prison is the minimum sentence for the crime. The state dropped the assault charge.

Church drove his truck through a red light and struck a car driven by Hope.

Juneau Superior Court Judge Larry Weeks said Church was negligent but that Church had not grossly deviated from societal norms.

''I am confident that every person in this courtroom has run a red light,'' Weeks said. He noted alcohol and excessive speed were not involved and that Church had immediately showed remorse.

Weeks acknowledged the tragedy of the death of Hope and called him a substantial member of the community. But he also said Church had been a productive citizen of Juneau for 11 years, with no traffic convictions here.

Hope was known as a historian, a man who loved basketball and a Tlingit leader with a gift for political strategy. He served on the Tlingit-Haida Central Council's executive committee and was a board member of Sealaska, the Southeast Native regional corporation, from 1974 to 1991.

Reached in Seattle at a daughter's home, Hazel Hope told the Juneau Empire she had hoped for a more substantial sentence.

''I just can't believe that guy (Church) can get away with such a crime,'' she said.

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