An Alaska man who kidnapped a woman, choked her until she lost consciousness then masturbated on her has been spared jail and been let off with a ‘pass’ because, the judge said, he has already been given a life sentence by losing his job.
Justin Schneider, 34, was arrested in Anchorage last August after attacking the woman. He had offered her a ride home then attacked her, strangled her until she passed out and masturbated over her to ‘fulfill himself sexually’.
In 2017, he was granted bail after he was arrested and was allowed to await trial at home with his wife and young children while wearing an ankle monitor.
Last week, he struck a highly criticized deal with prosecutors which saw him plead guilty only to one count of felony assault.
He was sentenced to two years imprisonment but had one suspended and was let off for time served on the other because of time served.
Justin Schneider, 34, (seen left in his August 2017 mugshot and right in court last week) let off without a prison sentence last week despite attacking a hitchhiker by strangling her and then masturbating on her while she was unconscious last August in Anchorage, Alaska
In court, prosecutor Andrew Grannik said: ‘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.’
On the day of the attack, the victim was trying to find a ride at a gas station when Schneider approached her in a white SUV.
He told her his name was ‘Dan’ and agreed to drive her to the town of Muldoon. They had never met before, she told police.
She got into the car and they drove off but stopped at a construction site nearby instead of the town where he had promised to take her.
Schneider is pictured with his wife Megan. He had never met his victim before the attack last year and told her his name was ‘Dan’ when he picked her up in his white SUV from a gas station. He drove her to a construction site then attacked her and told her he was going to kill her
He asked her to get out of the car then, ‘full on tackled’ her, according to charging documents.
As he choked her, Schneider told the victim that he was going to kill her. She lost consciousness thinking that she was about to die, the documents say.
When she woke up, he was zipping up his pants. He had masturbated on her and offered her a tissue to clean it up with.
‘The man told her that he wasn’t really going to kill her, that he needed her to believe she was going to die so that he could be sexually fulfilled,’ his arrest affidavit states.
She saved the tissue and gave it to police afterwards. She also told them his license plate number. He went straight from the scene to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport where he worked as an air traffic controller.
Following his arrest, Schneider’s elementary school teacher wife Megan posted his $30,000 bond.
Originally, he had faced up to 99 years behind bars but, with the kidnapping and harassment charges dropped, he was sentenced to just two years imprisonment.
Judge Michael Corey (left) accepted a plea deal put together by prosecutor Andrew Grannik (right) which saw Schneider plead guilty only to felony assault. The prosecutor said he could not prove kidnapping and masturbating on someone against their will in Alaska is not a crime so, the pair said, a two year jail sentence was the most he would have received at trial
He was never charged with sexual assault despite the nature of his crime because, unbelievably in Alaska, masturbating over a victim is not considered a sexual assault.
Because he has no criminal record, sentencing guidelines for a felony B assault are between zero and two years.
Grannik said he thought it was a reasonable deal because he does not think Schneider will commit the offense again.
Judge Michael Corey accepted the deal despite acknowledging that it was a ‘breathtaking result’ and told the man never to attack anyone else again.
Part of his reasoning was that he ‘would not be in jail for the rest of his life even if he had been convicted on all counts’ despite the 99 year maximum sentence that applies to kidnapping.
State prosecutors, after being inundated with complaints about the lenient sentence, defended it, saying they could not have proved kidnapping because the victim got into his car willingly.
‘Though it is understandable that some feel his sentence was not sufficiently harsh, all prosecutors are ethically required to follow the law, no matter how disturbing the facts may be,’ Alaska’s Criminal Director John Skidmore said.
Critics have called for Judge Corey to stand down because of his lenient decision
Schneider is yet to apologize for his crimes.
He said that he was ‘grateful’ for the justice system because it gave him ‘a year to really work on myself and become a better person, and a better husband, and a better father, and I’m very eager to continue that journey.’
He will spend three years on probation and must undergo treatment normally given to sex offenders.
Critics have demanded that Judge Corey not be reelected given his leniency.
The governor has also slammed the case which, he said, highlighted a ‘loophole’ in state laws which protect violent sex offenders.
‘Any reasonable person would think the disturbing and offensive actions of Mr. Schneider qualify as a sex offense. The law needs to be fixed.
‘This sort of outcome makes it even more difficult for victims to come forward.
‘The punishment in this case in no way matched the severity of the crime,’ Governor Bill Walker said.