Ex-Port of Alaska engineer to be on house arrest in attempted murder
A former official at the Port of Alaska will soon be released under house arrest, after he allegedly tried to drown his young daughter.
Todd Cowles, 46, who until recently was the Anchorage port's head engineer, was arrested in January on two domestic-violence counts of attempted murder.
According to court documents, Cowles tried to push his 8-year-old daughter's head into a bathtub; he later told investigators he was also planning to kill his wife and then himself. He cited stress on the job, and said he was looking for a way to escape.
On Friday Cowles' wife and his parents, Cleveland and Maureen Cowles, attended a bail hearing in the case.
Cowles' defense attorney, John Cashion, presented a bail arrangement that would allow Cowles to be released to the supervision of his parents as third-party custodians, along with electronic monitoring through Alaska Pretrial Services. The proposal included a change in bail that would require 10 percent of the $100,000 cash bail to be posted, rather than the full amount.
In a house arrest arrangement Cashion called "stringent," Cowles would be living in his childhood home in Eagle River with one of his parents present at all times. He would only have passes to leave the home for medical, psychological and legal appointments, and would be required to see a mental health professional regularly and take medication.
Cashion said an earlier plan would have sent Cowles to a Washington psychiatric hospital, but after seeing a forensic psychiatrist and following a medication regime while incarcerated, his condition has stabilized to a point where that is no longer an option.
Cleveland Cowles, a retired federal government employee and avid hunter, said he had distributed all his firearms to friends in order to make the home an appropriate place for Todd to stay. Maureen Cowles said she comes from a long line of nurses and would see to it that he takes his medications. Both of them said they will report any bail violations immediately.
Todd Cowles' wife also spoke in favor of the arrangement, saying she has confidence that her in-laws are equally interested in the safety and well-being of herself and her child, as they are in seeing their son get help.
"The charges here, Mr. Cowles has an impressive work history with the Port of Anchorage," said Cashion, "There’s pretty much a direct cause and effect from the view of all parties between the incident at issue and work stress issues."
He noted that Cowles will not be working or seeking employment.
After hearing from a state prosecutor who raised concerns about Todd's parents serving as his third-party custodians while also posting the bail money, Anchorage Superior Court Judge Erin Marston agreed to the arrangement.
"The court doesn’t have a glass ball and can’t see what’s gonna happen in the future, but it does appear to me to — first of all I don’t think there’s a risk of flight here, that’s not a concern. The risk is whether the defendant may harm himself or others," said Judge Marston. "This appears to be totally out of character and a result of mental illness at this point, but it sounds like he's being treated for the mental illness and I do think that this bail proposal is sufficient to protect people."
When reached for comment Friday, the Port of Alaska declined to answer questions about whether Cowles was able to take a reasonable amount of leave time while employed. The Municipality of Anchorage would only confirm that Cowles is no longer a municipal employee.
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