ANCHORAGE (KTUU) — Track Palin, son of former governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, pleaded guilty Tuesday to first degree criminal trespass in Anchorage Veterans Court, stemming from an assault case last year against his father.
As part of a plea deal, a felony burglary charge and misdemeanor charges of assault and criminal mischief will be reduced to a single misdemeanor count of criminal trespass in the first degree. That count will be further reduced to a lesser charge if Palin completes a multi-month long process through Anchorage Veterans Court. If he completes that program, he will serve 10 days in jail; if he doesn’t, he'll serve one year.
"Everything I'm seeing so far is a guy who's really motivated to improve himself," said Anchorage District Attorney Rick Allen. "He's in school he's doing everything that's being asked of him."
Palin was accused of assaulting his father, Todd Palin, on Dec. 16, 2017. He was arrested after his mother called police, claiming Track was "freaking out" and her husband was bleeding.
Todd was left beaten and bloodied from the assault, and the younger Palin was arrested on assault and burglary charges after he repeatedly hit his father at the family home in Wasilla, according to charging documents.
Tuesday marked the second day this week Palin was in Anchorage Veterans Court dealing with those charges. He was scheduled to change his plea Monday, but hid in a bathroom after being confronted by cameras. Allen said other veterans who were in court at the time were also upset cameras were present in the hallway.
Tuesday, Palin called in to the change of plea from Wasilla and accepted the guilty plea for criminal trespass.
Asked by the judge if he understood the changes and what was expected of him moving forward Palin paused and then said, "yes sir."
Anchorage Veterans Court is different from traditional court, with a goal of therapy and support rather than punishment. Veterans and the judge clap for each other after giving updates on their week and progress at work and in life. Palin will report back to Anchorage Veterans Court on Monday.
Outside the courtroom, Allen said Palin is taking extra steps to fix his life.
"The easiest thing for him to have done would have been to plead guilty, done a little bit of jail time, and moved on with his life," Allen said. "The more difficult, more rigorous avenue is to go through a court like Veterans Court. That's what people who are really looking more long term and want to better themselves, that's the kind of stuff that they do."
Palin's attorney, Patrick Bergt, says he can't comment on current or former clients, but speaking on his own behalf, he says he is grateful for programs like Anchorage Veterans Court, and for the hard work on behalf of the prosecutor.
"Veterans have done a lot for this country and I'm grateful for the opportunity," Patrick Bergt said.