Released from jail to meet with his attorney, man bolts days before federal trial

Tristan Grant, 35, is set to stand trial on federal sex trafficking charges starting on Feb....
Tristan Grant, 35, is set to stand trial on federal sex trafficking charges starting on Feb. 22, 2021.
Published: Feb. 18, 2021 at 7:53 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A man accused of sex trafficking minors, illegally possessing a firearm and shooting a woman, escaped Tuesday while on a court-ordered temporary release from jail, resulting in a 36-hour operation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to return him to custody.

Escape from temporary court-ordered release

Tristan Grant, 35, who faces federal sex trafficking charges, is scheduled to go to trial on Monday, Feb. 22.

According to court documents, Grant was essentially granted a day pass from jail to meet with his attorney, James Wendt, to prepare for his upcoming trial. Per court order, he was released to the custody of private investigator Monte Hernandez at 10 a.m. Tuesday and was due to return to the Anchorage Jail by 5 p.m. that evening.

Hernandez reported to police that after the meeting with Wendt, instead of getting back into the vehicle to return to the Anchorage Jail, Grant threw papers into the vehicle and took off on foot. Hernandez said he called 911 to report the escape.

William Walton, the supervisory special agent for the violent crime program at the FBI’s Anchorage Field Office, said agents worked with the Anchorage Police Department to locate Grant and then developed a plan to take him back into custody.

Grant was arrested Wednesday evening without incident.

When asked about the timing of the arrest and the decision to not alert the public, Walton said, “We factored in a number of issues when considering that. The first and foremost is that we were confident we had Mr. Grant located and isolated and an ability to contact him in a safe manner. We chose not to immediately release that information out of concern that Mr. Grant would then relocate and we would have to re-establish contact with him and once again establish the safety of the public and come up with a different approach for the agents if he were in a different environment.”

Walton said agents were in a heightened state of concern, especially in light of the recent deaths of two FBI agents who were killed while serving a warrant in Florida earlier this month.

“We always factor in the subject’s background and history, and in Mr. Grant’s particular instance we wanted to ensure that we did not cause the situation to become more dangerous by approaching him and so we developed a plan of action that we felt was the safest way to contact him, both for the agents and the public at large,” said Walton.

Walton did not say whether Grant was armed or how agents initiated contact with him.

Federal charges

According to a trial brief filed by the Alaska U.S. Attorney’s Office earlier this month, prosecutors plan to spend two days presenting evidence against Grant in a federal bench trial.

The prosecution’s case includes the testimony of two female minors for whom prosecutors say Grant served as a “pimp,” setting up “dates” for them and then receiving money they acquired as a result of the encounters.

Prosecutors will also present evidence that Grant produced several videos depicting sexual acts with one of the minor victims.

Grant faces charges of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors, sex trafficking of a minor, sexual exploitation of a child-production of child pornography and felon in possession of firearm and ammunition.

State charges

Grant is also facing an open case in state court. He’s accused of shooting a woman who is also named in the federal case in December 2018.

After the shooting, APD said that Grant shot his girlfriend multiple times and ran away before officers arrived.

Charges of assault and felon in possession are pending in that case, and now, Grant is facing a new state charge of escape following Tuesday’s incident.

Thursday, he refused to participate in a telephonic arraignment.

Alaska’s News Source reached out to Wendt Thursday, who is the attorney representing Grant in his federal case, but did not receive a response.

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