State mistakenly charges faraway college student with Anchorage car theft

Published: Oct. 13, 2017 at 4:28 PM AKDT
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A new twist in the car theft case highlighted in our series this week,

. The woman arrested and charged with the stealing a Hundai SUV?

She was not who she said she was ... and prosecutors mistakenly charged her under the wrong name.

The case raises questions about the ability of police, jailers and prosecutors to work together in identifying suspects and preventing criminals from giving false names to the court system.

State Criminal Division Director John Skidmore said the state filed a motion to correct the record today, nearly a month after the error.

“At that time we didn’t know anyone had compared fingerprints,” Skidmore said. “We hadn’t learned that until just today.”

Alexis Stewart, 20, was attending college out of state when she learned that felony car theft charges had mistakenly been filed against her back in Alaska. The woman who was actually arrested is Brandi Allard, 24, according to the Corrections Department.

The two women are relatives. Allard had lied to police at the time of her arrest, claiming to be Stewart, said DOC spokeswoman Megan Edge.

When Allard was booked into the Anchorage jail, fingerprinting revealed her true identity, Edge said.

But somehow Allard was still prosecuted under the identity of Stewart. In other words, one branch of the criminal justice system, jailers, knew who she was, but the prosecutors tasked with proving the case against her did not.

“Once they booked this person in and fingerprinted her, they should have known they had the wrong person,” said Deborah Allard, a relative of both women who told KTUU about the mistaken identity.

Skidmore said he did not know why the information about Allard’s correct identity did not make into the hands of prosecutors for several weeks, nor why the mistake wasn’t verified sooner despite immediate complaints from Stewart’s family.

“It took longer than we would have liked, and quite frankly I think that’s due to a shortage of staffing,” Skidmore said.

Allard has been held at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center since her arrest on Sept. 16, according to the Corrections Department.

Another relative said the felony criminal accusation, while false, temporarily put Stewart’s college career at risk and was discovered by prospective employers when Stewart applied for a job.

Allard did not attempt to correct her identity when she appeared at an arraignment on Sept. 17, according to a video recording.

At one point in the hearing, she asked the judge if she could be released on her own recognizance because, she claimed, “I’ve never been in trouble before.”

But court records show Allard had been arrested several times this year before she was caught behind the wheel of the stolen car in a Midtown parking lot.

She was wanted for warrants in separate theft and trespassing cases at the time of her arrest. In April she pleaded no contest to driving under the influence of heroin after a witness saw her running from a stolen car, according to charges.