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Crime & Courts

Troopers: 3 people caught burglarizing a Wasilla house were all on bail for other cases

Three people already facing open criminal cases for drug, theft and drug possession — one on ankle monitoring — were busted by troopers after they were caught breaking into a Wasilla home Saturday.

Saturday's trouble began just after noon, when a caller contacted 911 to report a burglary unfolding on Schrock Road in Wasilla.

A friend of the homeowner happened to be driving by and saw the three breaking into the home and a shed, according to troopers.

The friend held all three at gunpoint, but they fled into the woods.

When troopers arrived they found two vehicles "loaded with thousands of dollars' worth of items."

Troopers started to search the area with a dog and found Felisha Thomas, 31, Ethan Kerr, 26, and Joshua Johnston, 28.

They were all arrested for first and second-degree burglary, second-degree theft.

Thomas, Kerr and Johnston were also charged with violating conditions of release.

Each was facing a pending criminal charge in at least one other case.

Thomas had four unresolved misdemeanor charges, including theft and trespassing, from 2018, according to court records.

Kerr has four open misdemeanor cases from 2017 and 2018 relating to driving without a license and drug possession.

Johnston was facing a felony theft charge — filed in May.

Initially, troopers wrote that all three were under supervision by the Department of Corrections' Pretrial  Enforcement Division.

On Monday, the DOC said that wasn't true: Only Johnston was under the division's supervision. He was on ankle monitoring.

The only conditions set by the judge were that he stay away from an exclusion zone that included a victim’s residence and a business, said Megan Edge, a spokeswoman with the Department of Corrections.  
Johnston wasn’t breaching that exclusion zone when he was caught with what troopers say was thousands of dollars of stolen items in a truck, said Geri  Fox, the head of the Pretrial Enforcement Division.
“Nothing would have set off his monitor,” she said.
The court, not the DOC, sets conditions of release, she said.  
Ethan Kerr was simply out on bail from a 2017 case — pre-dating the pre-trial enforcement division and risk assessments in lieu of cash bail, she said.
Felisha Thomas was also out on bail for a 2018 case, Fox said. But a  judge had not ordered that she be supervised by the pretrial enforcement.

The Alaska State Troopers blamed the error on a typo.

The dispatch should have said the suspects were out on conditions of release "and/or" pretrial enforcement supervision, said spokeswoman Megan Peters.

The corrections officials chalked the bad information up to widespread misunderstanding over the still-new pretrial enforcement division.
“I think there is a belief that everybody gets assigned to the pretrial division,” Fox said. “And they don’t. That’s just not the reality. It’s up to the court to make that order.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that all the members of the arrested group were under the supervision of the Alaska Department of Corrections Pretrial Enforcement Division, based on information from the Alaska State Troopers. Only Joshua Johnston was under DOC pretrial supervision. 

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