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Nelson v. State

Supreme Court of Alaska
597 P.2d 977 (1979)

Nelson v. State


On May 22, 1976, just after midnight, Dale Nelson (defendant) was driving on a side road when his truck became stuck in a marshy area. He and his two passengers were unable to get the truck out. Nelson feared that the truck might tip over. They were able to get help from a passerby, who drove two of them to a Highway Department Yard. They waited a few hours for assistance, but no one was at the yard. Ignoring the signs that forbade trespassing, they took a dump truck, intending to use it to free Nelson’s truck. However, the dump truck became stuck as well. At about 10:00 am, Nelson met another stranded motorist who also needed assistance moving his car. Nelson and the motorist went back to the yard and took a front-end loader. They successfully freed the dump truck and were able to free the motorist’s car. However, they were unable to free Nelson’s truck, and the front-end loader also became stuck. At that point, Nelson and his companions had been trying to free the truck for twelve hours and they decided to go to sleep. Two of them slept in a tent and one of them slept in Nelson’s truck. Subsequently, the district court convicted Nelson of reckless destruction of personal property and joyriding. The superior court affirmed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Matthews, J.)

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