KENAI — In an unusual arraignment hearing held Tuesday afternoon at the Kenai Courthouse, two brothers charged with harassment in a September 2012 Homer teen drinking party incident pleaded not guilty to new charges filed in December.
However, lawyers for Anthony Resetarits, 22, and Joseph Resetarits, 20, told Kenai Superior Court Judge Carl Bauman their clients would plead guilty at a combined change-of-plea and sentencing hearing to be held at 2:30 p.m. March 12 at the Homer Courthouse.
Although Anthony Resetarits’ lawyer had said earlier this month his client intended to plead guilty at the arraignment, Anchorage lawyer Phillip Weidner entered a not guilty plea for him on charges of first-degree hindering prosecution and tampering with felony evidence, both felonies, and second-degree harassment. Michael Moberly, the attorney for the younger brother, also entered a not guilty plea for second-degree harassment for his client.
Normally in a felony case, a defendant would make a plea at an arraignment, a grand jury would then consider indicting, and if it did, the case would proceed to trial or a change of plea hearing. If the defendant pleaded guilty, there would then be a presentencing report and finally a sentencing hearing.
Tuesday’s hearing and the March hearing compress most of that court action into two events, the arraignment hearing and the March change-of-plea and sentencing hearing.
Both defendants are now in Hawaii and attended the arraignment by phone. They said they will be physically present at the sentencing hearing. On behalf of the victims, and because of public and media interest in the case, assistant District Attorney Miovas, the Anchorage prosecutor now handling the case, asked that the sentencing hearing be held in Homer. The victim’s mother attended Tuesday’s arraignment telephonically and said she and her son intend to be in Homer for the sentencing.
At first, Bauman had planned to hold the hearing in April, but the victim’s mother spoke against that.
“Honestly, this has been going on too long and April seems awfully far out,” she said. “I want this resolved now. We want this resolved. We were hoping in February.”
The defendants waived a reading of the information in the charges and Anthony Resetarits will waive an indictment on the felony charges. Weidner said the attorneys and Miovas have reached a plea agreement on the new charges, but there is an amendment to the information to be sent to Bauman before the sentencing. The defendants also will waive a presentencing review.
The Resetarits brothers had previously been indicted with second-degree sexual assault, but those charges were dismissed in August 2014 by Bauman after he ruled on a motion that the state provided insufficient evidence to support an indictment.
In charging documents filed in October 2012, Alaska State Troopers said that a teenage boy then 17 had been sexually assaulted with an object at a Sept. 8, 2012, party at an East End Road home. About 60 to 80 teenagers and young adults attended the party.
The victim had passed out drunk and had his head and eyebrows shaved, including an “M” for “Mariners” shaved into his hair. People also wrote on him with markers. In the December charging documents, prosecutors now allege that Anthony and Joseph Resetarits harassed the boy.
At Tuesday’s arraignment, because there are new charges, Miovas asked about bail conditions. Weidner asked that the brothers be released on their own recognizance — that is, without bail. Miovas said he did not have any reason to think the brothers would not appear in court. Bauman set a $50,000 unsecured appearance bond.
Under current Alaska Department of Law rules for plea agreements in serious cases, the judge has final authority on sentencing. Weidner said Anthony Resetarits is a commercial fisherman and he hoped that Bauman would not impose jail time.
Miovas had said earlier he did not anticipate jail time for Joseph Resetarits on the one misdemeanor harassment charge.
Michael Armstrong can be reached at email@example.com. Rashah McChesney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.