Justin Schneider was convicted of strangling and sexually assaulting a woman he gave a ride to in his car, and the Alaska air traffic controller will get off with no time in jail in a controversial sentencing.
The 34-year-old faced four felony charges for the August, 2017, incident, including kidnapping and assault. He was accused of picking up a woman at a gas station to give her a ride, then driving to a remote area and telling her he had to get out to get something from another car. As she stepped out of the vehicle, Schneider tackled her and began to strangle the woman, KTVA reported.
"She said she could not fight him off, he was too heavy and had her down being choked to death," APD Detective Brett Sarber. "(The victim) said she lost consciousness, thinking she was going to die."
When the victim awoke, she found that she was covered in semen, and Schneider offered her a tissue to clean herself off. That ended up being used as evidence.
Schneider told the court that his life was turned upside down after the incident, losing his job as an air traffic controller. He called the situation a "life sentence," KTVA reported.
But when it came time for sentencing, Schneider was not given a life sentence -- or any time in jail at all. A judge gave him credit for time served while he stayed with family while awaiting trial. He will not be required to register as a sex offender, the report noted.The sentence has generated quite the controversy, attracting attention across the nation. As the Huffington Post noted, many were incensed at Anchorage Assistant District Attorney Andrew Grannik, who said that he was giving Justin Schneider a "pass." Grannik said an expert believed that Schneider was not likely to commit another offense.
"But I would like the gentleman to be on notice that that is his one pass ― it's not really a pass ― but given the conduct, one might consider that it is," Grannik said.
The Alaska Department of Law has since come to Grannik's defense, saying that his words were "unfortunate and misunderstood."
"The prosecutor was attempting to explain that while the agreed upon sentence seemed lenient, it was consistent with current Alaska law and based on a thorough review of the facts of case," the statement said.
While he was not sentenced to any jail time for the strangling and sexual assault, Justin Schneider will be required to serve three years on probation.