Starkweather charged with assault of inmate

Posted: Friday, August 29, 2003

A man charged with the attempted murder of a Soldotna woman in February 2002, was arraigned on a misdemeanor charge Thursday after he allegedly assaulted a fellow inmate at Wildwood Pretrial Facility.

Justin A. Starkweather, 22, who is awaiting trial in the felony attempted murder and sexual assault case, had a plea of not guilty entered on his behalf in Kenai District Court on a charge of fourth-degree assault.

In the new case, Starkweather is accused of hitting another inmate in the head with his hands and pulling out some of the man's hair on Monday.

Earlier Monday, a status hearing was conducted in Kenai Superior Court on Starkweather's felony case, which is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 13 in Judge Charles K. Cranston's court.

Magistrate David S. Landry scheduled a trial on the newer charge to follow that trial a month later.

In 2002, Starkweather was charged with first-degree attempted murder, first-degree sexual assault, first-degree assault, first-degree burglary and fourth-degree theft in connection with an attack on a 46-year-old Soldotna woman in her home in the vicinity of West Poppy Lane.

The woman was found severely beaten with nearly all her facial bones broken, her hip and jaw bones broken and gouges taken out of her face. She had been sexually assaulted with a back scratcher, according to Kenai District Attorney Dwayne Mc-Connell.

Alaska State Troopers investigated and found several sets of footprints outside the woman's house. One set stopped on a snow berm above the victim's bedroom window, a set was found leading to the back door of a house across the street, where Starkweather lived, and another led from the victim's house to a side road. The defense has argued that the prints have not been matched with any shoes.

Troopers also reportedly found a blood spot at the back door of Starkweather's residence and obtained a search warrant to search the home. They found a pair of gym shorts with blood on them that Starkweather admits were his, according to McConnell. They also found other clothing and a pair of tennis shoes with blood on them in black garbage bags in a truck in front of the house and another pair of Starkweather's shoes wrapped in clothes in a crawl space under the garage.

Starkweather showed troopers a jewelry box he had that belonged to the victim and said it was given to him by a female friend. He also told troopers the friend had borrowed a pair of his shoes when she gave him the jewelry box, and those were the shoes found in the garbage bags.

"The defense surmised that the girl and a friend of hers are the culprits," McConnell said earlier.

The victim remained on life support for several weeks.

Starkweather has remained in Wildwood Pretrial Facility since his arrest Feb. 13, 2002, with bail set at $250,000 cash.

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