An unusual court case concluded in Bethel last week, when Michael Redfox of Emmonak received a 17-year sentence for beating and strangling his girlfriend. One of the things that made it unusual was Redfox choosing to represent himself in court, but there was much more to this case.
The prosecuting attorney in the case, Chris Knowles, said that this was an alcohol-fueled event. Redfox and his girlfriend had prepared homebrew to sell in order to pay their rent.
“The victim in the case asked Michael Redfox to stop drinking all the homebrew,” Knowles said.
An argument ensued, during which Redfox beat and strangled his girlfriend multiple times throughout his attack. She was finally able to stop Redfox by stabbing him in the head with a screwdriver. After his arrest, Redfox escaped, slipped his cuffs, and was on the run for two months before turning himself in.
In the courthouse, things did not settle down. Redfox, acting as his own attorney, cross-examined the victim for almost eight hours. The victim was someone the court found to be particularly vulnerable, due to a disability, and prosecuting attorney Knowles says that Redfox knew that.
“During the first day of that cross-examination, she had a visible reaction. I think it may have been some type of seizure,” Knowles recounted.
Bethel Superior Court Judge Nathaniel Peters handed down a 17-year sentence without probation, citing Redfox’s knowledge of the victim’s disability and his escalating criminal history. Judge Peters also highlighted the community’s condemnation of domestic violence as a factor in the term’s length.
Acting District Attorney Chris Storz said that this sentencing is part of a bigger picture. “I think that this case is an example of the court taking domestic violence more seriously,” Storz said.
Storz says that this case was likely just one of many domestic violence assaults that Redfox committed without getting caught. Both he and Knowles called this their “one big shot” to protect future victims from this perpetrator, who is now behind bars.