Soldotna man arrested for assault granted custodian

A Soldotna man arrested for assaulting a family member has been released with a third party custodian after health and mental issues spurred the Kenai Court to speed him through the system.

Levi Smith, 19, was arrested Monday after Alaska State Troopers responded to a motor home in Soldotna and found he had strangled a family member, according to an affidavit written by Trooper Matthew Wertanen.

Smith said he and the alleged victim had argued over a phone charger, and that he had become angry and put his hands around her throat, Wertanen wrote.

During a hearing held Wednesday at the Kenai Courthouse, Smith’s father, Richard Dominick, spoke to District Court Judge Sharon Illsley about his son. He informed the court that Smith suffers from numerous mental and health issues, including Joubert Syndrome. Joubert is a rare brain disorder affecting a person’s breathing patterns, muscle development and intellectual development, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

“I am medically fragile,” Smith said during the hearing.

Dominick, who spent 25 years working for the Wildwood Pretrial Facility, expressed concern over his son’s ability to receive all the treatments he needs while in the prison system. Without diligent administration of his numerous medications, Dominick said Smith could have a stroke or stop breathing altogether.

“His pituitary gland doesn’t function,” Dominick said. “Jail is definitely not the place for him. He’s not a criminal. He’s a person with developmental disabilities.”

Dominick volunteered himself as a temporary custodian, and Illsley sped up Smith’s hearing to set bail later Wednesday morning to avoid sending him back to Wildwood for an extended period of time.

Patrick Sheridan with the Kenai District Attorney’s office had no objection to Dominick as a guardian. He said that while the state had concerns about the safety of the alleged victim, he felt a third party custodian would do more good in Smith’s case than any bond, performance or otherwise, the state could ask for.

Dominick will serve as Smith’s guardian until an appropriate facility or other living situation can be lined up. In the meantime, Illsley ordered that Smith take all his medications as prescribed in addition to his regular conditions of release, which include no contact with the alleged victim.

The chance of Smith being a danger to anyone in the general public is minimal, Dominick said.

“He’s never attacked anybody outside of his family,” he said.

Smith is charged with assault in the second degree, assault in the fourth degree and interfering with the report of a domestic violence crime.

Illsley scheduled a bail review hearing for Aug. 18. If convicted, Smith could face up to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $120,000.

Reach Megan Pacer at megan.pacer@peninsulaclarion.com.

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