Sterling woman accused of assaulting a child sees trial delay

  • By Rashah McChesney
  • Thursday, February 26, 2015 9:56pm
  • News

A Sterling woman accused of dragging a 14-year-old boy off of his bicycle and sexually assaulting him, may not see trial until late in 2015 after a Tuesday hearing revealed that her lawyer was not ready to proceed with the case.

While Laurel Lee originally asked the judge to hold her lawyer, public advocate DinaMarie Cale, to a previously scheduled trial date in March — the hearing ended with Lee and Cale agreeing to a conference that would allow them to negotiate a later date.

Cale, who ran into scheduling difficulties with several cases Tuesday, said she would try to be prepared for the trial by July.

During a hearing about a different case, Kenai Superior Court Judge Carl Bauman suggested that Cale work to be more timely with scheduling her cases.

“There are only so many of this trial level that one person can be effective in doing in the amount of time that I’m being asked to do these trials,” Cale said.

Bauman responded that perhaps Cale needed to trim back her case load.

During the hearing on Lee’s case, a lawyer from the district attorney’s office agreed to a later date but asked that there be no more continuances in the case if it were scheduled to go to trial in September.

Lee, however, said she was unwilling to wait several months before trial — citing the state’s Criminal Rule 45 which gives defendants the right to a speedy trial.

Under rule 45, a defendant charged with a felony, a misdemeanor, or a violation shall be tried within 120 days.

However, there are exceptions for things like motions, examinations and hearings on competency.

“I’m bankrupt. I’m paying $1,200 a month,” she said gesturing to the monitoring bracelets she must wear as one of the conditions of her release.

Bauman said the monitoring was a condition of her release and that she could have chosen another avenue.

“You don’t have to incur the expense. There’s room in jail ma’am,” he said.

Lee was charged on Oct. 1, 2014 after Alaska State Troopers allege she forced a minor into the woods near the Sterling Highway and sexually assaulted him.

She was charged with first-degree sexual assault, kidnapping and second-degree sexual abuse of a minor.

Lee faces between 20 to 99 years in prison with and up to $500,000 in fines under the first-degree charges.

The sexual abuse of a minor charge carries a prison term of up to 10 years and a fine of up to $100,000. If convicted, she would have to register as a sex offender.

Lee’s next scheduled court appearance is a trial call on March 11 at 2:30 p.m.

Reach Rashah McChesney at rashah.mcchesney@peninsulaclarion.com.

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