Skookum silent on assault

Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation Chief Eddie Skookum won't address his recent assault charges in the United States. "I'm not saying nothing," said Skookum, who briefly answered his cellphone on Thursday.

Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation Chief Eddie Skookum won’t address his recent assault charges in the United States.

“I’m not saying nothing,” said Skookum, who briefly answered his cellphone on Thursday.

He wouldn’t say whether he plans to fight the charges or remain as chief in the meantime.

“I’m not talking,” he said, before hanging up.

Skookum was released from Lemon Creek Correctional Centre in Juneau last week after Vera Bossenberry, a Whitehorse resident, posted $20,000 bail, said Matt Miller, a reporter with KTOO radio in Juneau.

His bail was lowered from the initial $50,000, said Miller.

“Most of the discussion in court that I attended centered around whether or not he was even going to return to Alaska to face the charges,” he said.

“Now that he’s in the Yukon, he may just stay there.”

If Skookum were to refuse to return, it isn’t clear how an extradition process would work, according to discussion in court.

It also wasn’t clear how Alaska can enforce the conditions around his bail, such as keeping him away from his assault victim, said Miller.

“There were some discussion about how to enforce that considering he’s in another sovereign territory,” he said.

Skookum was found locked inside of a truck on the waterfront in Haines, Alaska, in the early morning of July 4.

Police had discovered a grisly scene at the Captain’s Choice Motel earlier, where Skookum is believed to have been staying.

The door to a room had been pried open and there was blood on the walls, bed sheets and the carpet, said motel owner Ed Lapeyri.

“There was a bit of blood in the parking lot and lot blood in the room, and broken lamps and furniture,” said Lapeyri.

The victim was his girlfriend, said Darlene Johnson, a councillor with the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation who spoke on behalf of the government while Skookum was in jail for most of July.

The couple has been living together for some time, she said.

During an interview two weeks ago at the annual assembly of the Council of Yukon First Nations, Johnson said the First Nation isn’t ready to force Skookum to resign.

“I hope he does the right thing and follows his conscience and thinks about his people at home,” she said.

“We’re giving him that benefit for him to do the right thing,” she said. “We can only wait a week or two and then council has the option to decide.”

The prosecution in Alaska is being led by Amy Williams, a state assistant district attorney based in Juneau.

Skookum has a pretrial hearing on August 10. He may participate over the phone.

His trial is scheduled for September 20.

Contact James Munson at

jamesm@yukon-news.com.

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