Friday, September 07, 2012

Nicholas Chamberlain Pleads Guilty To Attempted First-Degree Murder And Third-Degree Assault In 2009 Stabbing Of Lori Miebs; Civil Suit Pending

Update April 19th, 2013: Nicholas Chamberlain was sentenced to a total of 42 years in prison. Judge Michael Wolverton handed down a 60-year sentence with 20 years suspended on the murder charge, as well as a two-year sentence on the assault charge.

It took three years, but justice is finally on its way to being served in the Lori Miebs case. On September 7th, 2012, Nicholas Chamberlain, accused of stabbing Miebs 29 times on December 7th, 2009, has pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree murder and third-degree assault. In exchange, prosecutors dismissed two counts of assault in the first degree and tampering with physical evidence, while the other counts were consolidated into one charge of assault in the third degree. It's not a wrist slap, either; when sentenced in January 2013, Chamberlain will face up to 99 years in prison for the first-degree attempted murder charge and five years for third-degree assault. Although Chamberlain is 19 years old now, he was 16 when he committed the crime, and that may be a mitigating factor in sentencing, although prosecutors intended to try him as an adult from the very beginning. Lori Miebs is pleased that the case will not need to go to trial.

Chanberlain and Miebs were fellow students at Service High School in Anchorage at the time. The short version: Miebs wanted to break off a relationship with Chamberlain, and Chamberlain couldn't handle the rejection. So Chamberlain led Miebs into the woods adjacent to the school, promising a surprise, but then attacked her, stabbing her repeatedly with a small knife. The attack ended when bystanders came to her aid; most notably, Kenneth Schulz was identified as the primary hero who stopped the attack. Chamberlain then fled further into the woods but was apprehended an hour later.

-- Alaska Court System record on criminal case 3AN-09-14049CR.
-- Alaska Court System record on civil case 3AN-12-08249CI.

Yes, there is also a civil case. Miebs filed a civil suit for intentional tort on July 6th, 2012, requesting a jury trial. No trial date has yet been set, but here is the current list of defendants:

-- Anchorage School District
-- Alaska Department of Education
-- Lou Pondolfino (Service High Principal at the time)
-- Mr. Noland
-- Nicholas Chamberlain
-- Shelee A. Chamberlain-Keezer
-- Margaret Abraham
-- John Does 1-10

A follow-up ADN story on February 10th, 2012, indicates that Lori Miebs has made a full recovery from her wounds, and decided to accelerate her emotional recovery by "losing herself in service to others". She first began volunteering with Abused Women's Aid in Crisis (AWAIC), then also volunteered to help out at the Alaska Ski for Women event, which attracted around 1,200 women and girls whose skiing raised money for charities that help those hurt by domestic violence. Lori also describes the attack from her perspective, and discusses warning signs that the relationship with Chamberlain was becoming toxic.

While Lori Miebs is deservedly lauded for being a poster girl for successful recovery, we should be slow to judge those victims who cannot recover as quickly. Each person is different emotionally, and may also have differences in the strength of their support networks.

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