Fort Yukon man sentenced in cousin's death

Posted: Tuesday, October 30, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A Fort Yukon man has been sentenced to 21 years in prison for his cousin's shooting death last year.

William Carroll, 36, was convicted in June of shooting at a group of snowmachiners as they sped away from his home, killing Warren Ward, 22, and injuring a woman.

Carroll, who was sentenced Monday, had faced a number of charges, including first-degree murder and three counts of first-degree attempted murder, in the wake of the Dec. 16, 2000 shooting.

Ward was on the back of a snowmachine heading away from Carroll's home when Carroll fired four rifle shots. One of them struck Ward in the back, passed through him and entered Crystal Fields, who was sitting in front of him on the machine. Fields spent several days in Fairbanks Memorial Hospital.

In June, Carroll pleaded no contest to one count of second-degree murder and a count of first-degree assault. The plea was part of an agreement that his sentence could not exceed 35 years.

Prosecutor Jeff O'Bryant said Carroll and others had spent the night drinking elsewhere in Fort Yukon. The party fizzled when the group reached Carroll's home. So the group set off in search of another party, according to O'Bryant, who said Carroll fired at least one shot in anger that the guests were leaving, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

Defender Paul Canarsky contended Carroll fired into the air three times as a means of celebration and then slipped, causing the rifle to go off a fourth time and killing Ward. Canarsky said that immediately after the shooting, Carroll tried to save Ward's life with a blanket and sleeping bag, banged on two doors until he got help and willingly surrendered to authorities.

Canarsky said Carroll was an outstanding individual who had made many contributions to his community, but had serious problems with alcohol.

In handing down the sentence, Superior Court Judge Richard Savell dismissed the claim that the shooting was accidental. ''It is not an accident when you pick up a gun when intoxicated, chamber a round, and fire in the direction of four people,'' he said.

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