PALMER -- A Wasilla resident was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison Monday for a 2001 incident in which he threatened to kill Alaska State Troopers and led officers on a chase that closed the Glenn Highway for six hours.
Bret F. Maness, 38, was sentenced in Anchorage by U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline. Maness was convicted June 19 by a federal jury on two counts of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition.
Trial evidence indicated that troopers went to Maness' home on June 28, 2001, to serve a court order for his commitment to Alaska Psychiatric Institute.
When they arrived, troopers found Maness in his recreational vehicle with a bolt-action rifle, Assistant U.S. Attorney Deborah Smith said. Maness threatened to kill troopers if they didn't leave, and then led troopers on a chase through Wasilla to the Glenn Highway, she said.
Troopers set up a spike strip near the Old Glenn Highway, which deflated the tires of Maness' RV. He fled from the vehicle with a MAK-90 semi-automatic assault rifle, a .25-caliber pistol, and a military vest filled with ammunition, Smith said.
Law enforcement officials finally cornered Maness near Eklutna, but he again refused to surrender and threatened to kill officers who were trying to apprehend him. An Anchorage Police Department officer shot Maness in the shoulder and apprehended him as he pointed the assault rifle at other officers, Smith said.
Maness has been in jail since February, Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Russo said.
In an interview, Russo said it wasn't determined if Maness had mental problems, adding he was "certainly hateful." White supremacist literature was found among his possessions, in addition to several firearms, Russo said.
Nor did Maness use insanity as a defense at trial.
"He claimed his wife was setting him up," Russo said, adding that Judge Beistline gave Maness an enhanced sentence for perjury during the trial.
At the time of the 2001 incident, Maness was out of jail on bail pending appeal of a state conviction for misconduct involving weapons in the second degree and two counts of fourth-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance, according to the U.S. Attorney's office. He was a convicted felon prohibited from possessing guns or ammunition.
Maness claimed not to know that officers who approached him at his home were Alaska State Troopers, according to a federal attorney's sentencing memorandum.
"Instead, the defendant claimed the troopers mocked him and belittled him," the document said. "Furthermore, the defendant contended that he did not know troopers were chasing him for approximately 15 miles until a spike strip was deployed.
"The defendant claimed that law enforcement fired at him as he tried to give up by standing in the middle of the road with his hands in the air; after he heard the shots, he went into 'fight or flight' mode."
Not only did the jury reject Maness' account of things, but his story differed from what he told his own retained psychiatrist less than three months before the trail, according to the sentencing memorandum.
Federal attorneys said a sentencing enhancement was warranted because Maness endangered other people while trying to flee troopers. He ran a red light and stop signs and exceeded the speed limit, attorneys said.
Also, his flight set in motion "an intense manhunt," attorneys added. Dozens of law enforcement officials, surveillance equipment, aerial support and K-9 units took part in the search, they said.
Federal attorneys' sentencing memorandum cited Maness' "history of disregard of authority as well as a history of violence and carelessness with guns."
He fled from police during a routine traffic stop in 1998, concealed a loaded .22-caliber pistol in a vehicle he was driving in 1992, and was arrested the same year for carrying a concealed weapon.
The sentencing memorandum also included references to non-prosecuted incidents such as hurling racial epithets at an alleged victim while pointing a handgun at him, then firing in the air in 1992. Maness spit in a police officer's face and yelled at a magistrate during a bail hearing in 1998, according to the sentencing memorandum.
In 1995, Maness pointed a rifle at a neighbor's head during an argument. He left, but returned later with a pistol and threatened to shoot the neighbor, according to the sentencing memorandum.
"When the defendant was arrested, the police noticed five rifles, one handgun, and two shotguns -- all strewn about the defendant's apartment," the document said. "Moreover, the defendant told police that he had more weapons that had been stolen in a burglary he alleged his neighbor committed."
In 1997, when Maness was on probation, authorities discovered he had amassed fighting knives, a sub-machine gun, bows and arrows, and a homemade hand grenade, according to the sentencing memorandum.
"This arsenal surrounded the defendant's 62 mature marijuana plants, along with anti-government propaganda, hate literature and songs," the document stated.