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Judge Gets Report on Banished Teen Robbers

November 16, 1994

EVERETT, Wash. (AP) _ Banishment to uninhabited Alaskan islands appears to be changing the attitude of two Tlingit Indian teen-agers who attacked a pizza deliveryman with a baseball bat, the victim says.

″Just the tone of their voices has changed quite a bit,″ said Timothy Whittlesey, who was left deaf in one ear by the attack.

Simon Roberts and Adrian Guthrie were sentenced Sept. 2 by a tribal court to 12 to 18 months banishment on separate uninhabited islands. It was the first time a state court had referred a criminal case to a tribal panel for traditional punishment.

Whittlesey, who was present for the tribal court proceedings, watched a videotape of the teen-agers made by tribal elders, the only people allowed to visit them.

He said Roberts had ″tended to be the one who wasn’t really sorry for what he had done,″ but now sounds as if ‴his attitude has changed a little bit.″

A tribal court administrator agreed.

″There is now an element of sincere sorrow evident in the outlook and demeanor of both youth,″ Diana Wynne James wrote in the report submitted Thursday to Snohomish County Superior Court Judge James Allendoerfer.

The teen-agers are to return to Allendoerfer’s court in March 1996, when they could face prison - up to 3 1/2 years for Guthrie and 5 1/2 years for Roberts, who wielded the bat.

Allendoerfer was persuaded to try the arrangement by Mrs. James’ husband, Rudy James, who intervened at the request of elders in the boys’ home town of Klawock, Alaska.

Guthrie and Roberts are living in one-room cabins heated with wood-burning stoves. Each has a shotgun, ax, pitchfork, knife and other basic tools. They eat wild foods supplemented by dried fish and canned goods.

Tribal court officials made two visits to the pair last month, most recently on Oct. 26, the report said.

Roberts also received an unauthorized visit in early October by family members who helped him cut firewood, the report said. The tribal court said any other visits would be subject to prosecution for interfering with the banishment process.

Guthrie, who smirked and talked back during the Klawock trial, is now humble and respectful, the report said. His cabin is neat and orderly but overrun with mice. Tribal officials have authorized a cat.

‴I feel I’m on my way in the thinking process, the rite of passage into manhood,‴ Mrs. James quoted Guthrie as saying. ″Every kid should do this for at least one to two months to get their heads on straight. The isolation is the only way to do it.″

Roberts’ cabin also is neat, the report said, and is equipped with a natural alarm clock: flying squirrels that use the roof as a landing pad at daybreak.

″Simon reports that being away from society is being away from sex, drugs, booze and killing ... (he) says he has never felt such a feeling of peace and calm before in his life as he now feels in banishment,″ the report said.

He spends most afternoons carving traditional native objects such as halibut hooks and spoons.

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