ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Track Palin was formally accepted into a diversion court program Tuesday after assaulting his father, the former first gentleman of the state of Alaska, so severely it left him bleeding from the head.
Palin, the son of 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Todd Palin, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor criminal trespass after breaking into the family home north of Anchorage last December. The change of plea will allow him to take part in Alaska’s Veterans Court, a therapeutic diversion program intended to rehabilitate veterans.
If he completes the program, he will serve 10 days in jail. But under the plea agreement, if he doesn’t complete the Veterans Court program, he will serve a year in jail. Palin, a 29-year-old Army veteran, was initially charged with felony burglary and misdemeanor counts of assault and criminal mischief.
Palin, who was dogged by television cameras at a Monday court appearance, did not appear in the Anchorage courtroom for Tuesday’s change of plea hearing, and instead was allowed to call in from Wasilla.
Among the objectives of Veterans Court is to keep veterans out of jail and promote their well-being in the community, according to the state court website.
The veterans must plead guilty or no contest to at least one charge as part of a plea agreement. The veteran then receives two sentences, a lesser one if he completes all aspects of his or her treatment plan coordinated with the Department of Veterans Affairs, or a regular sentence that must be served if the treatment plan isn’t fulfilled.
Veterans report to the specialized court every Monday to update Judge David Wallace on their progress in the previous week and what went right or wrong for them in a non-formal setting. Other veterans in the courtroom applaud after every person gives their update to the judge, even if the veteran had a bad week.
Palin had attempted to bar the media from covering proceedings in Veterans Court, but Wallace ruled the media and the public have a right to be in the courtroom. He did approve the Palins’ request to bar cameras from normal proceedings in the specialized court.
During Monday’s informal Veterans Court session, Wallace asked Palin how things were going for him. “Doing good, sir,” Palin responded, adding he was taking classes and learning patience.
Palin was arrested in December in the altercation at the Palin’s lakeside home in Wasilla. He had called his father and said he was coming for a pickup.
Todd Palin told his son not to come to the house, but Track Palin indicated he was going there and would beat up his father, according to an affidavit. That threat prompted Todd Palin to get a pistol “to protect his family,” the document says.
When Track Palin arrived, he broke out a window, disarmed his father and put him on the ground, injuring him.
When police arrived, Todd and Sarah Palin left the house. Police wrote that the former governor was visibly upset. Police found Track Palin moving around in a strange manner and said he called officers peasants. He was arrested without incident.
Sarah Palin had told authorities that her son was on some type of medication and “freaking out.” Track Palin told officer he had drank a few beers.
Track Palin was suspected two years ago of punching his then-girlfriend, who then became concerned that he was going to shoot himself with a rifle, according to court documents. He faced several charges but pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm while intoxicated, and the other charges were dismissed.
His then-girlfriend later filed for custody of their child and requested a protective order against Track Palin, who served in Iraq for a year in 2008.
Sarah Palin indicated that post-traumatic stress disorder might have been a factor in that case.
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