The day before his trial was set to begin in Homer, a 53-year-old man accused of kidnapping, armed assault, robbery and burglary has accepted a plea deal dismissing those felony charges.
Bret Herrick of Homer pleaded guilty to resisting arrest and two charges of fourth-degree assault, all misdemeanor charges, on Tuesday at the Kenai Courthouse. Herrick was sentenced to 1,080 days in jail with 860 days suspended, or 220 days to serve, with three years probation. With time served and an adjusted sentence for good behavior, Herrick was released from Wildwood Pretrial Facility in Kenai on May 2.
These charges were the result of an altercation with Alaska State Trooper Daniel Brom and Sgt. Jeremy Stone, who were arresting Herrick for the felony charges.
On Aug. 3 Herrick was allegedly armed with a gun and entered 18-year-old Kyle Hock’s home on East Skyline Drive Homer. Kimberly Payne and Patrick Delumeau were also at the house. Herrick said he was looking for “Daryl” or “Trish” and that “Trish” owed him $250. Hock said he had the money. Then Herrick allegedly forced Hock into his truck, drove him to a bank and made him withdraw money from an ATM. Hock told troopers he threw the money in Herrick’s face and ran away.
The altercation with troopers occurred at the Anchor Point Grocery Store on Dec. 7. Brom, who was getting a snack at the Anchor Point Grocery Store, called for backup after he identified a man in a 1992 Chevrolet truck as Herrick. Stone quickly arrived. Herrick tried to pull away and wouldn’t obey the troopers’ orders when they tried to handcuff him. After a brief tussle, the officers handcuffed and arrested Herrick.
Herrick’s trial was most recently scheduled to begin on May 1, within the 120 day, speedy trial rule set to expire on May 2.
At a status hearing before Judge Carl Bauman on April 19, the state asked for the trial to be pushed back because Hock, who is a crab fisherman, was believed to be stuck in an ice floe in the Bering Sea as stated in an affidavit. The state said Hock wasn’t trying to avoid trial, he just physically couldn’t get to Homer and was never subpoenaed.
The court phoned Hock’s captain, John Hanson. He commands his crabbing boat, Tempo Sea, from Anchorage and is in daily contact via email and radio with his vessel.
Hanson said the crew was never stuck in an ice floe for any extended period of time, and the crew was waiting for ice to melt to make their last stops before the end of the season.
He said the crew comes to port approximately every 12 days. At that time the ship was stationed 300 miles northwest of Dutch Harbor and had last come to port there for a day and a half during the week of April 15.
Public Defender Andy Pevehouse argued that if more effort had been made by the state to have the Judicial Court subpoena Hock when the Tempo Sea came to Port in Dutch Harbor, he could have been in Homer in mid-April.
At the following status hearing on April 26, the state said they had maintained contact with Hanson and expected Hock to be in Homer by May 2, the second day of the scheduled trial.
On April 30 at the change of plea hearing the state said they have had nearly daily contact with Hock’s captain. Assistant District Attorney Amanda Browning spoke to Hanson the previous afternoon who said it would be at least eight days before the boat came to port, which wouldn’t allow for Hock to attend trial.
The state could have tried the case without Hock, if the other two witnesses who were at the home when Herrick allegedly entered with a gun were available and ready. Browning said the state has not been able to contact Payne since October and could not go forward with just Delumeau, who was incarcerated on a theft charge as of Tuesday morning.
With no witnesses to the alleged kidnapping, armed assault, burglary and robbery available for trial, the felony charges were dismissed with a no contact order between Herrick and Hock, Payne and Delumeau.
Pevehouse said Hock’s initial testimony was less dramatic than his grand jury testimony and thinks Hock and Payne were just “freaked out” during the incident and Herrick is “not dangerous, but different.”
Herrick was sentenced to 360 days with 250 days suspended for each assault charge and 360 days with 360 days suspended on the resisting arrest charge. The sentences are consecutive, so he was to serve 1,080 days total with 860 days suspended jail time, or 220 days actual time, with three years probation. Herrick had served 147 days in jail since his arrest Dec. 7, Pevehouse said. He will not be allowed to have firearms, must forfeit all seized items, cannot have contact with the arresting troopers, and must submit to a mental health evaluation within 30 days of being released from incarceration.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to more clearly reflect Herrick's sentencing and to include his release from Wildwood.
Kaylee Osowski can be reached at email@example.com.