Man charged in multiple attacks against hikers back in custody after another incident

The 38-year-old appeared in court Monday afternoon following a string of incidents along Anchorage trails
Published: Aug. 1, 2023 at 9:18 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - After being arrested, taken into custody, and then subsequently released, the man accused of multiple attacks against people and property on and near Anchorage trails was arraigned in court Monday afternoon.

Sean U. Ahmed, 38, faces multiple charges in separate criminal cases, with two other cases currently being reviewed by state and municipal officials, according to court documents.

Court documents connected with Monday’s arraignment show that a trio of hikers was near the Basher Trail area of Campbell Airstrip Road on Sunday when one of the women saw a man — later identified as Ahmed — go into the woods and reappear brandishing a large stick. The hikers had all drawn bear spray in an attempt to defend themselves as the man blocked them from passing on the trail before the man dropped the stick he had and walked away, according to the documents.

Ahmed was initially apprehended in a separate case late last week, but after being let go, he was arrested again following the incident Sunday, which police reported as near Benny Benson Alternative High School.

On Monday afternoon, Ahmed was arraigned on one misdemeanor count of fear assault in connection with the incident on July 30, said Assistant Municipal Prosecutor Larry Monsma.

Documents also point to another open criminal case charging Ahmed with assault in the second degree, two counts of assault in the third degree, and one count of criminal mischief.

“He has every right, as every defendant (does), to go all the way to trial or to accept a plea bargain,” Monsma said Monday. “Mr. Ahmed was arraigned in district court, here down at the jail, and he was arraigned on one count of fear assault ... I gave the comments of the victim to the judge, and new court dates were set.”

Monsma on Monday also requested a $1,000 cash performance bond and a third-party custodian for Ahmed, both of which were granted by the judge on the case.

“A live, third-party custodian, to be with him within sight and sound for 24 hours,” Monsma explained, “So he can’t get out of jail until a second or third or fourth bail hearing in which that third-party custodian is granted and he pays the full bail amount.”

Speaking not on any specific cases, but only generally on bail policies in Alaska, State of Alaska Department of Law Criminal Division Deputy Attorney General John Skidmore said that the Alaska Constitution entitles all to bail, barring only very specific circumstances.

“Article 1, Section 11, specifically says the accused is entitled to be released on bail,” Skidmore said. “It doesn’t say what the bail has to be, but it does say the person is entitled to be released on bail.”

Section 11 of the Alaska Constitution states in full: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall have the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of twelve, except that the legislature may provide for a jury of not more than twelve nor less than six in courts not of record. The accused is entitled to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be released on bail, except for capital offenses when the proof is evident or the presumption great; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.”

Skidmore also pointed to a state statute — specifically Title 11, chapter 30 — that go through what is required for an accused criminal to be released.

“The statutes indicate that a person is entitled to be released on bail and the court can set conditions,” Skidmore said. “In any case, the court or judge has to evaluate the level of the crime, the specific nature of the crime — that is, what are some of the facts within it — and then they’re going to look at a person’s criminal history. And based on those things, the court will set what it believes to be appropriate bail to address flight risk of an individual as well as to ensure the safety of the community.”

There are, however, exceptions to the bail requirement, though they are rarely used in Alaska, according to Skidmore.

“The only cases in Alaska in which that is authorized is if somebody has violated probation,” he explained. “They are not entitled to bail, because it’s not a new criminal offense; that person has already had their liberty restricted, they have already been convicted.”

Ahmed’s initial conditions of release included requirements that he “obey all laws.” Department of Corrections data shows Ahmed was arrested on June 25 for assault and criminal mischief charges, then released the next day. In the last week, Ahmed was arrested July 28, released by court order July 29, and then was back in custody July 30. At last check, he remained in the custody of the DOC.

The Anchorage Police Department is still asking anyone who had similar experiences or encounters on trails in Anchorage to call 311, option #1, or dial (907) 786-8900, option #0.