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Crime & Courts

Wasilla man who fled state on last day of child sex abuse trial apprehended in Washington

Tuesday was supposed to be the last day of a Wasilla man's trial on charges that he had molested two 9-year-old girls.

But the defendant didn't show up at the Palmer courthouse.

Instead, the prosecutor says, Ronald Guthrie, 64, fled to Washington rather than face the jury's verdict.

The trial went on without him. The jury heard closing arguments and convicted
Guthrie of five counts of sexual abuse in his absence, said prosecutor Brittany Dunlop.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Marshals Service and Alaska State Troopers caught up with Guthrie in Washington state.  Troopers did not respond to questions about Guthrie's apprehension Wednesday.

He will be extradited to Alaska, Dunlop said.

Guthrie had been held for about a year in jail after he was first arrested on the charges in 2014. He was released pending his trial for medical reasons, Dunlop said.

He was supposed to be watched by a third-party custodian 24 hours a day — a practice the Department of Corrections and court system is phasing out in favor of electronic monitoring and other bail supervision.

On Tuesday morning, the third-party custodian told the court that he'd awoken to find Guthrie gone.

"It's very unusual to have a defendant flee mid-trial," said Dunlop.

The women who said they had been molested by Guthrie when they were around 9 years old testified during the trial, Dunlop said.

He faces 25 to 35 years in prison on each of three convictions of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor, as well as five to 15 years on each of two second-degree sexual abuse of a minor charges — effectively a life sentence for the 64-year-old.

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