‘Yukon Charlie’ arrested in brass knuckles assault

The Kenai Grand Jury last week indicted on felony assault charges a Homer man who in August 2008 shot and killed another man at an Old Town drinking partay. 

Charles Young, 61, known as “Yukon Charlie,” faces counts of second-degree and third-degree assault in the latest incident. The grand jury charged that on Nov. 11, Young hit Robert Tech, 47, also known as “Turkey Joe,” with brass knuckles, the second-degree assault count, and that he also stabbed Tech with a switchblade, the third-degree assault count.

Young and Tech live at the end of East Bunnell Avenue near Beluga Slough in Old Town, the same area where in 2008 Young shot Michael Swanger. A sign at the end of the road reads “Grateful Dead End.” Young, an artist and carver, has a cabin decorated in folk art like blue-painted caribou antlers. His home is on a lot next to an area known as “Digger Dave’s,” a compound of cabins, trailers, old buses and motor homes where Tech lives on a lot owned by Dave Guetschow. Neither lot has water and sewer.

According to a criminal complaint by Officer Jacob Ruebelmann, at about 2 a.m. Tech made a 911 call to police saying Young had beaten him up and pulled a knife on him and that he needed medical help. Police responded and found Tech bleeding in the head and face at his home, a bus at Digger Dave’s. Tech also had a tear on his coat. 

Homer Volunteer Fire Department emergency medical technicians examined Tech’s wounds, and Ruebelmann said he saw a shallow slash on the left side of Tech’s body about an inch long. Tech was taken to South Peninsula Hospital for treatment.

Police found Young at Guetschow’s house and interviewed Young. Ruebelmann said Young told him he took full responsibility for what he did to Tech. Ruebelmann found a pink-and-black folding knife and brass knuckles on Young. 

Young said he had been smoking marijuana at the house with Guetschow and another man, Larry Mitchell Jr., when Tech came over. Young said he had gotten tired of Tech’s drunken yelling. He admitted hitting Tech in the head with brass knuckles because Tech wouldn’t stop talking, Ruebelmann wrote. 

When asked if Tech shut up, Ruebelmann said Young told him, “You count the number of times I had to hit him to get him to shut up.” Young said Tech did not hit back and that he overpowered him because “I have been a leader of men all my life,” Ruebelmann wrote.

Young said he just tried to prick Tech with the knife but knew he wore layers of clothing and wouldn’t be injured. He said he just wanted to send Tech a message, Ruebelmann wrote.

In August 2008, Young shot and killed Michael Swanger during a drinking party. Swanger died of his wounds at the scene. Young was charged with first-degree murder, but the Kenai District Attorney later dismissed the charge after Young claimed self-defense and the state said it couldn’t disprove the defense. Young said Swanger had taken a revolver from him and fired shots that almost hit him. Young then picked up a double-barrel shotgun and fired one barrel at Swanger, hitting him in the stomach. 

Young also had been charged with fourth-degree misconduct involving weapons, but that charge was later dismissed. Young had a breath-alcohol level of .211 about four hours after the shooting.

Related to the 2008 shooting, Guetschow and Mitchell were charged with first-degree hindering prosecution. Mitchell received a suspended imposition of sentence on that charge and the charge against Guetschow was reduced and later dismissed.

Tech also had been peripherally involved in the murder of Mephibosheth “Moshe” Wilkinson the night of Aug. 7, 2004, in the parking lot of the Carl Wynn Nature Center on Skyline Drive. Leonard Michael Wallace, also known as “Montana Mike,” pleaded no contest to shooting Wilkinson and was sentenced to 20 years in jail. Wallace had been drinking earlier that night with Tech. Investigators said they believed Wallace shot Wilkinson thinking he was Tech. Both men looked similar, investigators said.

Young is in custody at Wildwood Pretrial Facility. An arraignment was held on Tuesday afternoon at the Kenai Courthouse, but Young did not appear telephonically. A new hearing is scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.