Defense says pipeline shooting investigation flawed

Posted: Friday, November 22, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The investigation of the shooting of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline was flawed and designed to implicate Daniel Lewis, an attorney for Lewis said Wednesday on the third day of trial.

As prosecutor Kevin Burke continued calling witnesses in an effort to back the story he has outlined about the shooting, defense lawyer Adam Gurewitz cross-examined each witness about several details, including why his client's brother, Randy Lewis, was never investigated to the same extent as his brother.

Gurewitz asked why investigators took as evidence items Randy Lewis said belonged to Daniel but nothing that belonged to Randy.

''When you walked into the residence, is it safe to say you were looking for evidence solely to prove Danny Lewis shot the pipeline?'' Gurewitz asked during his cross-examination of Mark Terra, an FBI agent at the time who investigated the Oct. 4, 2001, shooting that resulted in a spill of more than 285,000 gallons of oil from the pipeline.

Terra, Alaska State Troopers Sgt. Scott Grasle and FBI agent Bruce Milne each testified that Carhartt coveralls, Sorel boots and orange fleece gloves were taken from the household near Livengood because they had oil and mud on them and because Randy told them Daniel was wearing them during the shooting.

Gurewitz, showing pictures of the inside of the residence, asked Grasle and Terra why clothing that belonged to Randy and that appeared to also have oil was not seized. The men testified the other items weren't important to the investigation, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

''We were trying to corroborate the story Randy had told us,'' Terra said.

Gurewitz focused several of his questions Wednesday on Randy being drunk when he told investigators about Daniel shooting the pipeline. At one point, he questioned Grasle why Randy was never arrested for driving while intoxicated and weapons misconduct even though he had gun on him and was driving a three-wheeler.

Grasle said Randy had told officers he drank a fifth of whiskey on Oct. 4, 2001. ''He seemed to be coherent at the time,'' Grasle said. ''He seemed to answer the questions and be fairly consistent.''

Gurewitz also noted minor inconsistencies in the prosecution's case. In questioning Terra about the .338-caliber rifle the prosecution has claimed Daniel used to shoot a hole in the pipeline, Gurewitz noted Terra had changed his testimony about how far the gun was found from a tire imprint left by a four-wheeler.

Terra said Wednesday that the gun was found about 35 feet from the imprint, but in grand jury testimony used to formally charge Lewis with the crimes, he said it was found about four feet away.

When Gurewitz pointed out the discrepancy, Terra said he was mistaken during his testimony in front of the grand jury.

Lewis' trial is expected to take more than three weeks. More than 30 witnesses are expected to be called.

Lewis is charged with oil pollution and first-degree criminal mischief in connection with the shooting as well as felony driving while intoxicated for allegedly driving the four-wheeler while drunk, third-degree assault for allegedly pointing his rifle at Randy Lewis and weapons misconduct for allegedly handling a gun while drunk.

Lewis will face up to 22 years in prison if convicted of those charges. A federal jury has already convicted Lewis of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He faces a 10-year prison term in that federal case.

Lewis is currently serving a 3 1/2-year sentence after being convicted of breaking into a Fairbanks U-Haul business in September 2001, stealing a safe and driving off with a truck. That case is not connected with the pipeline shooting.

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