Man Pleads No Contest in Cabbie Killing

[Spoilers] By DAN RICE, Staff Writer
The Fairbanks man accused of killing a taxicab driver pleaded no contest to a charge of second-degree murder Wednesday.

Jonathan Biederbeck, 21, faces as much as 50 years in prison for the death that occurred during a July 14 robbery attempt.

He entered the plea in exchange for state prosecutors dismissing a host of other felony and misdemeanor charges he faced in connection with the stabbing death of 53-year-old Michael Belknap.

The plea agreement binds Judge Mark Wood to assign a base sentence of 50 years. However, Wood can choose to assign a shorter prison term by designating some of the sentence as suspended time. Biederbeck is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 19.

He will be eligible for parole after serving one-third of his sentence. That means if Wood sentences Biederbeck to the maximum of 50 years in jail, he will be eligible for parole in 16 1/2 years, or when he is 38.

Appearing in orange jail garb with his public defender, Biederbeck said very little during Wednesday’s hearing, other than offering prompt replies to questions from Wood.

His no contest plea means the case will not go to trial as scheduled this month.

Biederbeck was charged with stabbing Belknap to death with a kitchen knife while the men struggled. Biederbeck, who was also charged with breaking into the Northland Aviation Building and stealing Cutco kitchen knives from a warehouse one week before the murder, called Yellow Cab for a ride early in the morning and was picked up by Belknap, according to a charging document.

Biederbeck admitted stabbing Belknap in the throat and chest during a struggle off Henderson Road that followed Biederbeck’s robbery attempt, the document stated.

One of the Cutco kitchen knives Biederbeck was accused of stealing was the suspected murder weapon.

Fairbanks Police Department officers first contacted Biederbeck when he called dispatch to report that he had been robbed and stabbed behind the Northgate Mall.

While investigating Biederbeck’s claim, which turned out to be false, police learned that Yellow Cab reported a missing driver, police said. Law enforcement later put the two reports together and arrested Biederbeck after discovering Belknap’s body on the side of the road near the intersection of Bluebird Avenue and Dome Road.

Alaska State Troopers reported that Biederbeck drove to that location and ditched the cab and Belknap’s body.

Prosecutors brought charges against Biederbeck in three different cases.

One case filed in connection with the day of the murder charged Biederbeck with one count each of second-degree murder, first-degree robbery and first-degree vehicle theft as well as two counts each of tampering with physical evidence.

A separate case was filed in connection with the July 7 break-in and charged Biederbeck with two counts of second-degree burglary as well as one count each of second-degree theft and third-degree criminal mischief.

The last case accused Biederbeck of a misdemeanor crime of making a false report in connection with the erroneous story he told police.

Prosecutors agreed to dismiss all the charges but the second-degree murder count. Had he been convicted of the charge during a trial, Biederbeck could have faced a sentence of as much as 99 years in prison. [/Spoilers]

Just like my previous posts back in July, I’ve add the text of the article to the spoilers tag above. You can read that, or the original article. I also found an AP Newswire story here.

I’ve been meaning to post a few things about the trip to AK, but I haven’t yet. I’ll probably get to it sometime this weekend. I’ve got some photos to put online as well.

Man Pleads Innocent in Cabbie Killing

[Spoilers] By DAN RICE, Staff Writer
The 21-year-old man accused of killing a taxicab driver during a robbery on June July 14 pleaded innocent during a court hearing Friday.

Jonathan Beiderbeck, 21, is charged with stabbing 53-year-old Michael Belknap to death after robbing him in an Eagle Cab taxi.

He faces one count each of second-degree murder, first-degree robbery and first-degree vehicle theft as well as two counts each of tampering with physical evidence in connection with allegations that he tried to cover up the crime.

In a separate case, Beiderbeck is charged with two counts of second-degree burglary as well as one count each of second-degree theft and third-degree criminal mischief.

Those charges stem from accusations that Beiderbeck of broke into the Northland Aviation Building one week before the slaying and stole more than $500 worth of high-quality kitchen knives from a storehouse. One of the Cutco knives is the suspected murder weapon.

Beiderbeck was arraigned on all the charges in front of Fairbanks Superior Court Judge Niesje Steinkruger during a hearing Friday. He made no statements and a public defender entered not guilty pleas to all charges for him.

A trial in the murder case is scheduled to start Oct. 6. Beiderbeck is being held at Fairbanks Correctional Center on both cases in lieu of $260,000 bail plus a court-approved, third-party custodian. [/Spoilers]

I didn’t post this yesteday because there is an error in the article. I’ve corrected it in the spoilers text above, and sent the author an email about it.
As before, you can read the spoilers text, or follow this link to the original article.

More from the News-Miner

This time it’s an opinion piece that mentions my father.

[Spoilers] Consider the cabbies
Driving a taxi is a dangerous business, even in Fairbanks.

This week’s killing of driver Michael Belknap, the second cab driver killed in Fairbanks in recent years, brings home the vulnerability of the taxi driver. True, most fares give drivers little trouble. But Fairbanks drivers routinely deal with a seedier sort: with belligerent drunks, with people who suddenly don’t have the money to pay at their destination, with criminals.

A 1996 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention makes it clear. Taxicab businesses had the nation’s highest rate of occupational homicide, at 41 per 100,000 for 1990 to 1992, up sharply from the previous study period of 1980 to 1989. The newer figure is nearly 60 times the national average. Robbery, as appears to be the case with the killing of Mr. Belknap, is often the primary motive.

The risk factors are all there: Cabbies work alone, work late, exchange money with the public, and often are called to out-of-the-way places. The operations manager for Eagle/Yellow Cab, the company for which Mr. Belknap was driving at the time of his killing, acknowledged the dangers of the business and said drivers know it, too.

The CDC has suggested some ideas for reducing homicides among cab drivers and workers in other high-risk professions. In Alaska, state law does not require any such protective measures, but the municipality of Anchorage acted a few years ago to improve taxi driver safety after three drivers were murdered in early 1998.

Anchorage municipal code requires that every cab have an emergency switch that an endangered driver can press to send a distress signal to his company’s dispatch center. In addition, each cab must have one of the following items: a Plexiglas partition between the front and rear seats, a global positioning system unit so that the company’s dispatch center knows the whereabouts of the taxi or a hidden camera that regularly takes and stores electronic images of activity inside the vehicle.

The system isn’t without its difficulties. The plastic partitions have proved too expensive, according to an Anchorage city official, since they do not transfer easily between vehicles. That’s a problem since taxis are often involved in accidents or in the shop for repairs. GPS units can be disabled by an attacker intent on a crime.

Even so, it’s something.

By comparison, Fairbanks has no such safety requirements. The city aims only to ensure the safety of the passenger by conducting background checks of those who have applied for a taxi license and by requiring annual updates of drivers.

Although requiring safety measures such as those Anchorage has implemented would be an added cost for Fairbanks taxi companies–perhaps even putting some out of business–the Fairbanks City Council should begin the discussion of imposing such requirements in this city.

City files show 485 people licensed to drive cab in Fairbanks. Mr. Belknap’s death leaves 484 who might want a safer cab. [/Spoilers]

You all know the drill by now, use the spoilers link above, or view the original article at the link below. In case you’re wondering about why I’m bothering to repost here if I’m just going to link to the original articles anyway, it’s because I want to make sure the text is still available. The News-Miner only guarantees articles will remain online for fourteen days.

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner – Fairbanks, AK

Man formally charged with taxicab stabbing

[Spoilers] By BETH IPSEN, Staff Writer
The Fairbanks man accused of killing a taxicab driver during a robbery Monday morning made his first court appearance Tuesday.
Jonathan Beiderbeck, 21, was charged with second-degree murder and first-degree robbery in connection with the stabbing death of Eagle Cab driver Michael Belknap, 53.

Alaska State Trooper Lt. Lee Farmer said a lab technician from the state crime lab in Anchorage is going over Belknap’s cab. Troopers said Belknap picked up Beiderbeck at the Tamarac Inn Motel at 4:15 a.m. and the stabbing occurred about 45 minutes later.

“As far as to where it actually occurred, we’re not ready to put something in stone on that yet,” Farmer said.

Court records said Beiderbeck told Belknap to take him to Henderson Road. Belknap’s body was discovered nearby, on the side of a dirt road at the intersection of Dome Road and Bluebird Avenue at 7:20 a.m.

Farmer said the technician is also trying to determine if the stabbing happened at Henderson Road or where the body was found.

According to a criminal complaint, Beiderbeck called for an cab with the intention of robbing the driver. Beiderbeck had Belknap drive him out to Henderson Road, where he robbed the man. Beiderbeck told the interviewing detective he stabbed Belknap in the chest and throat when the driver put up a fight.

He then dumped Belknap’s body, drove the red, white and blue Suburban to Geist Road, where he left the vehicle, and returned to the motel room.

He reported to police at 5:50 a.m. that he had been stabbed in the right bicep during a robbery behind Northgate Square. Police records said he claimed he was jumped by two men behind the mall. Police have not been able to substantiate Beiderbeck’s story.

The Suburban was recovered near Rebecca Drive at 10 a.m., troopers said.

Fairbanks police Detective Aaron Ring said a knife suspected of being the weapon was recovered when police searched the motel room where Beiderbeck was staying.

Ring said Beiderbeck admitted to stealing the knife during a recent robbery on Fairbanks International Airport property.

Airport Police Sgt. Karen Ebanez is still investigating that incident.

Ebanez said Vector Marketing Corp., a marketing industry that sells Cutco cutlery, reported July 7 that its offices had been burglarized. A couple of doors had been forced open, but Ebanez did not know the total value of the knives stolen.

Beiderbeck is being held at Fairbanks Correctional Center on $250,000 bail with third-party approval.

At his initial arraignment Tuesday, Beiderbeck had only one question.

“What are the requirements for third-party custodian?” Beiderbeck asked. [/Spoilers]

Inside the spoliers tags, you will find the text of a follow-up article regarding the circumstances of my father’s death. You can use the link above to read it, or you can use the link to the original article below.

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner – Fairbanks, AK

As you can imagine I’m a little pre-occupied with this. Most (if not all) of my blog entries tor the next few weeks will probably be centered on this. They won’t all just be reprints of news articles. I’ll try to write more about what I’m thinking and feeling — I’m just not ready to do that still.

Taxicab Driver Stabbed to Death

[Spoilers] By BETH IPSEN, Staff Writer
A taxicab driver was stabbed to death during a robbery off Henderson Road, Alaska State Troopers said Monday morning.

The body of Michael Belknap, 53, was spotted on the side of the road at the intersection of Bluebird Avenue and Dome Road at 7:20 a.m. by a man on his way to work, troopers said. Fairbanks Police Department officers arrested Jonathan Beiderbeck, 21, of Fairbanks Monday afternoon and charged him with stabbing Belknap to death while the two struggled during a robbery, a criminal complaint says.

Beiderbeck called dispatch at 5:50 a.m. from the Tamarac Inn Motel to report he had been stabbed during a robbery behind the Northgate Mall, police records say.

Fairbanks Police Lt. Dusty Johnson said an ambulance took Beiderbeck to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital for treatment of a stab wound in his right bicep.

According to police records, Beiderbeck claims the robbery occurred near the Dumpsters, but police were unable to substantiate his story.

A criminal complaint charging Beiderbeck with second-degree murder and first-degree robbery says that while police were talking to Beiderbeck about his reported robbery, police received word from Yellow Cab that a taxi and driver were missing.

Belknap was last heard from while picking up a passenger from the motel, Johnson said.

A dispatcher at the trooper detachment was the first to suggest the two cases were linked, said trooper Lt. Lee Farmer. Dispatchers monitoring other area police departments’ radio traffic put the different reports together based on the motel room.

“This gets back to the left hand knowing what the right hand is doing,” Farmer said.

At 8:45 a.m., Fairbanks police picked up Beiderbeck from the hospital and took him to the Cushman Street police station to be interviewed by a police detective and trooper investigator, troopers said.

Beiderbeck admitted to calling the cab company with the intention of robbing the driver, the complaint said. A trooper report said Beiderbeck was picked up at 4:15 a.m. and he stabbed Belknap around 5:30 a.m.

When Belknap picked up Beiderbeck from the motel, he told Belknap to take him to Henderson Road. After he got up the courage to rob the driver, he slapped Belknap in the back of the head, the complaint says. When Belknap asked him what he was doing, Beiderbeck told him he was robbing him.

Beiderbeck said Belknap resisted and he stabbed him in the throat and chest, killing him, the complaint says. Beiderbeck then dumped Belknap’s body, ditched the car and found his way back to the motel where he called police, troopers said.

A patch of blood marked where Belknap’s body was left. Troopers combed the murder scene for evidence for about five hours Monday morning. They said the cab was recovered off Geist Road at 10 a.m. The car has been impounded pending further investigation and Belknap’s body has been sent to Anchorage for an autopsy.

Anna Nash, who Tamarac Inn owner Rose Mary Johnson said allowed Beiderbeck to stay with her for a few days, told investigators she received bloody money from Beiderbeck he claimed he got from a friend, the complaint says.

They were scheduled to be out of the room Monday, Johnson said. Instead, Fairbanks police officers moved in to search the room.

Beiderbeck, who turned 21 Saturday, has no criminal history as an adult and has had two domestic violence restraining orders filed against him–the most recent one was filed by a man July 3.

Farmer said there’s no indication that Belknap and Beiderbeck knew each other before the stabbing.

“At this time, we don’t have any reason to suspect prior contacts,” Farmer said. “But that could change and it might not change.”

Bill Northrup, operations manager at Yellow Cab, was called out Monday morning to identify Belknap’s body.

“It was not the best way to start the day,” Northrup said. “To go out and identify a co-worker and friend and downstairs neighbor.”

Northrup said Belknap was a full-time cab driver in Fairbanks for about five years, working 12-hour night shifts from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m., six days a week.

“It was, literally, his last trip of the day,” Northrup said. “Mike doesn’t care about money. He probably would have given it to him.”

Belknap, who was commonly called “Mikey” by co-workers and customers alike, was well liked, Northrup said. He also was considered a professional driver who carried maps in his cab and could find just about any address.

“He’s one of the drivers that I depend on,” he said. “The dispatchers didn’t worry abut him either.”

Belknap was survived by a sister and brother-in-law living in Whittier and other family members in California, Northrup said.

A taxi driver hasn’t been murdered in Fairbanks since Maurice Smith was beaten to death in July 1998. Smith’s remains weren’t found until the next spring. Shawn Aldridge, Dale DePue and John Holloway were convicted for their roles in the death and are currently serving their sentences.

“Years ago we used to have one every 14 months,” Northrup said. “We all realize it’s a dangerous occupation. … You drop your guard a little bit and reality slaps you in the head with a two-by-four.” [/Spoilers]

I’ve decided to put the text of the story inside spoilers tags. If you wish to read it, click the link above, or follow the link below to the original article.

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner – Fairbanks, AK

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My father was killed yesterday. I just started crying again as I read that article. I’m still don’t feel ready to talk about this, but I realized that yesterday’s post would worry some people, and I wanted to let you all know what was going on. It was easier to cut and paste that article than to try and write about it myself.

Edited on Jul 15th 2003, 18:30 by Hooloovoo

Edited on Jul 15th 2003, 22:53 by Hooloovoo

Dum da dum dum…

I just read a series of articles on the online version of the Independant Weekely, a newspaper out of Durham, NC

The stories (linked below in chronological order) relate the tale of a High School student who was questioned by 2 law enforcement officers about a suspected hacking incident at Chapel Hill High School.

Looks like a couple laws were broken, but not the ones you might think.

“The FBI has been reading my diary” –May 28, 2003
“Silly cops!” –June 4, 2003
Faking It –June 11, 2003

I’m looking forward to reading any followups on the story.

I guess there’s two morals to this story:

  1. Be careful what you write in your blog, some people might not be hip to your pop-culture references.
  2. Don’t be an idiot and go breaking fedral laws during an investigation.

It Has Begun

As I was driving home from work today listening to the traffic station, a CBS news special report broke in. While speaking with a correspondant in Baghdad, several large explosions were heard. It seems that US led forces, acting on intel obtained by the CIA earlier today, launched several cruise missles at a “target of opportunity” within the city.

I just finished listening to the President’s address, and I’m turning off the television now. I’m not terribly interested in listening to reporters, news anchors, and special correspondants speculate about what is going on, what or who was just hit, and when a full scale attack will be launched.

I honestly don’t know whether or not this war is needed. I do wish that it had not come to this. I am saddend when I think about the loss of life that is about to occur (or already has occured) on both sides of this conflict.


Edited on Mar 20th 2003, 03:31 by Hooloovoo

CNET Radio pulling the plug.

AM 910 and XM 130 will be going dark tonight. This makes me sad, as it is the station that I end up listening to the most during my commute. I haven’t signed up for thier new online only offering. I’ll probably check it out, but I doubt I’ll stick with it.

So, should I switch to a music station, the local traffic/news station, NPR? I haven’t really decided yet. I’ll proably be spending most of my commute time next week channel surfing.

Set set your stingers to "stun"

[Quote] WASHINGTON (AP) — Scorpions don’t bother to waste venom killing a victim if they don’t have to. Instead they use a prevenom that causes extreme pain, resorting to the deadlier version only when necessary, researchers have discovered. [Quote]

I still wouldn’t want to piss off a scorpion. Even if it isn’t likely to kill me with the first sting, it’s still gonna hurt like hell. (Which I guess is the point.)

Full article found here