In two separate cases and in the same week last month, two lower Kenai Peninsula men have been charged with felony assault under a “three strikes” provision of Alaska’s assault law.
Jamie L. Mosquito, 24, Port Graham, and Kenneth W. Kvasnikoff, 43, Ninilchik, both were charged with third-degree assault, domestic violence, a class C felony, under a section of the law that makes the misdemeanor charge of fourth-degree assault a felony if the defendant has been convicted of two or more fourth-degree assaults within the past 10 years.
A Kenai grand jury indicted Mosquito on five counts of third-degree assault and two counts of second count of third-degree assault for recklessly placing another person in fear of injury by means of a dangerous instrument.
In charging documents, Alaska State Troopers alleged that on Feb. 25, Mosquito sprayed a fire extinguisher at a woman at her Port Graham home, causing her to have trouble breathing, and that he then put his arm around the woman’s neck. Mosquito has two previous assault convictions, one in 2011 for third-degree assault and another in 2012 for fourth-degree assault.
Kvasnikoff also was charged with fifth-degree criminal mischief and violating conditions of release. In charging documents, troopers alleged that on Feb. 21, Kvasnikoff got in an argument with a woman, grabbed her by the wrist and broke a hair dryer he had been using to try to start a fire in a wood stove. Troopers said Kvasnikoff had convictions in 2008 and 2010 for fourth-degree assault.
The men were charged under section 5 of Alaska Statutes 11.41.220, third-degree assault, which says a defendant can be charged with third-degree assault if he or she has two or more convictions for assaults with reckless injury. That section of the law was changed in 2008 and took effect in September 2008.
Homer Police Chief Mark Robl said officers are well aware of the section 5 provisions. When arrests are made, dispatchers get a complete criminal history report on the defendant, often by the time the defendant has arrived at the police station for booking, Robl said.
An officer will make a felony complaint if appropriate, he said.
Because the law took effect in 2008, it can take a while for a defendant to accumulate enough convictions for the provisions of section 5 to apply.
“There are more and more people who are beginning to utilize it,” said John Skidmore, director of the criminal division, Alaska Department of Law, Anchorage. “I think it’s an effective tool for the department to use to combat domestic violence.”
Fourth-degree assault is the least serious assault charge, for recklessly causing physical injury to a person or that places a person in fear of imminent physical injury. Generally, assault charges become more serious depending on the kind of weapon used, the seriousness of a threat and if the victim is a child. Section 5 also applies for convictions of more serious crimes against persons, including assault with a deadly weapon and murder.
Michael Armstrong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.