Suspect in paintball attack reaches plea agreement

Posted: Friday, July 20, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- One of three young men charged in a paintball attack on Alaska Natives has reached a plea agreement in which he will admit videotaping the shootings, prosecutors said Thursday.

Charles Deane Wiseman, 20, of Eagle River, will plead guilty or no contest to three counts of misdemeanor assault in connection with the paintball attack on Alaska Natives in downtown Anchorage.

Wiseman, who was 19 at the time of the attack, pleaded not guilty in May in Anchorage District Court to seven counts of misdemeanor assault. The plea agreement incorporates the complaints lodged in the other four counts, prosecutors said.

Wiseman will have to admit to his part in the attacks on seven people the evening of Jan. 17, prosecutors said. He will be allowed at sentencing to dispute making racist statements recorded during the attack. He is expected to be sentenced Aug. 31.

The Alaska Federation of Natives said it was unhappy Wiseman had struck a deal and would protest at his sentencing.

''An attack on Alaska Natives because of our race is a hate crime. A hate crime of any kind that involves violence certainly falls in line to be classified as a felony,'' said AFN spokesman John Tetpon. ''We are disappointed that plea agreements are coming down in an event that is one step short of using real bullets.''

Wiseman and the two younger men, both 17, set out from Eagle River on the evening of Jan. 14 and drove to downtown Anchorage to, in their words, go ''hunting'' for ''muktuks'' or ''drunk Eskimos,'' according to court documents.

The juvenile in the front passenger seat was the principal shooter, firing at all the victims except for one fired at by the driver, prosecutors said.

John J. Novak, chief assistant district attorney for Alaska, said Wiseman sat in the back seat and videotaped the attacks. He said Wiseman also helped lure victims closer to the car.

The two other young men face proceedings in juvenile court.

Wiseman and the two juveniles were tracked down after one of the victims recorded the license plate on the silver Subaru and called police. She said she'd been struck with two paintballs in the side.

Police later confiscated a paintball gun and videotape from two homes in Eagle River.

The approximately 25-minute tape depicts the three announcing their intention as they leave Eagle River, about 15 miles north of downtown Anchorage.

''We're going to Anchorage to go nail some Eskimos, also known as muktuks,'' a voice on the tape says. Muktuk is the outer skin and attached blubber of a whale, considered a delicacy in Eskimo culture, and a racist name for Alaska Natives.

The videotape shows the victims flinching as they're hit and some trying to shield their faces after being struck at close range.

The youths can be heard laughing derisively at their targets.

The paintball attack outraged the Alaska Native community and prompted the Legislature in January to condemn the incident and all hate crimes, racism and wrongful discrimination.

Gov. Tony Knowles convened a panel to hold statewide public hearings on Alaska's racial climate. The Commission on Tolerance met for the first time Wednesday at a community center near where the paintball attack occurred. About 100 people attended the four-hour meeting. One outreach worker said just days before a young Native man had been held down by whites youths and burned with a cigar.

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