Winter in Unalaska by Sam Zmolek
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  • A new judge overseeing a criminal case involving a fatal 2019 car crash in Unalaska has granted the defense extra time to solidify a new trial date. In a status hearing on Feb. 8, Superior Court Judge Thomas Matthews allowed Julia Moudy, the lead counsel for the defense, another month to go through discovery materials, gather experts and find a trial date that will fit her schedule. That comes after several delays and complications in the case – the latest being a change in lead counsel for the defense, which led to the appointment of a new trial judge.
  • Diana Rentaria has been attending hearings, arraignments and trial calls for nearly five years, in hopes of eventually finding justice in a criminal case involving the death of her 18-year-old daughter Kiara R. Haist and another Unalaska teen. In May 2019, Dustin Ruckman, a high schooler at the time, drove his truck off of Unalaska’s Ulakta Head Cliff. Haist and 16-year-old Karly McDonald were ejected from the vehicle and killed as the pickup descended nearly 1,000 feet down the mountain. From that time on, Rentaria says she has been in limbo, trying to adapt to her new life without the child she used to call “Kiwi.” “You just try to live in the world as that other person you're supposed to be,” Rentaria said. “But at the end of the day, you go home and you wonder, ‘Are you okay? Are you hungry? Are you cold? Can I see you in the moon if I stare at the moon long enough?’” Jan. 17 would have been Haist’s 23rd birthday.
  • Two fishermen have pleaded guilty in Unalaska District Court after violating commercial fishing rules in the Aleutian Islands. Last week, the court…