Washington authorities accuse banished teens of breaking law


EVERETT, Wash. -- Two Tlingit teen-agers who have been banished to an isolated island in southeastern Alaska are violating the conditions of their punishment by possessing firearms and living on federal land, according to a motion filed by the Snohomish County prosecutor's office.

Thursday's motion, which seeks the immediate return of the teens to Snohomish County, claims that the makeshift cabins where Adrian Guthrie and Simon Roberts live are on U.S. Forest Service land. They also have hunting rifles, given to them at the start of the banishment.

Being a felon in possession of a weapon and living illegally on federal land are both crimes punishable by fines and prison sentences. Deputy Prosecutor Seth Fine, in the motion, says the Snohomish County judge's unusual release that allowed the youths to be banished requires that they break no laws.

The motion includes a litany of other alleged problems with the youths' banishment, claims that Guthrie and Roberts are caught in an escalating battle between Tlingit families, and says each has been threatened by other tribal members. Guthrie also allegedly ran critically short of supplies over the winter.

But Byron Skinna, a member of the tribal court that banished the teens, disputed the allegations. He said Thursday that he had returned Monday from visiting Guthrie and Roberts and that both were fine.

"[The banishment] is working. The boys have really changed their attitudes," Mr. Skinna said.

Roberts and Guthrie, both 17 at the time, were convicted last year of the 1993 assault and robbery of pizza deliveryman Tim Whittlesey, who suffered debilitating injuries.

Snohomish County Superior Court Judge James Allendoerfer agreed to delay their sentencing until March 1996 to allow the teens to participate in what a Tlingit tribal court claimed was traditional rehabilitation. The teen-agers were banished for one year to separate locations on an isolated island to contemplate their crime.

Prosecutors have consistently opposed the judge's action and have sought to have it overturned.

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad