Charge dismissed in ‘pirate’ case

A man witnesses said dressed like a pirate and acted strangely in a Sept. 25 incident at the Homer Ferry Terminal won’t be prosecuted on a charge of second-degree terroristic threatening, a felony. In court documents filed Oct. 28, assistant district attorney Craig Sparks dismissed the charge against Bret Herrick. Herrick had been arrested and was at Wildwood Pretrial Facility in Kenai, but later released on bail.

Herrick’s lawyer, Nathan Lockwood, said what the case came down to is that the First Amendment gives very broad latitude for freedom of speech.

“Bret may have been saying things that might have been odd. He’s an odd character. Homer’s full of odd characters,” Lockwood said in a phone interview on Monday.

According to a criminal complaint, Homer Police Sgt. David Shealy said at about 5:10 p.m. Sept. 25 police received multiple 911 calls saying that Herrick harassed people in the ferry parking lot as they waited to board the M/V Kennicott. Shealy wrote that at one point Herrick went into the terminal and told a woman, “We’re all going to die.” Another witness told Shealy that Herrick was animated and was seen talking to the windows and walls. People moved away from Herrick as he allegedly harassed them and was loud and boisterous.

Herrick wasn’t charged with harassment or any other charges beyond terroristic threatening.

Herrick wasn’t actually dressed as a pirate, Homer Police Chief Mark Robl said in an interview last month. Herrick wore a red bandana, a black leather jacket and boots. He also carried legally a foot-long knife in a sheath partially visible from the jacket.

“He was acting very strange,” Robl said.

That wasn’t enough to convict Herrick, Lockwood said.

“I don’t think Bret was threatening anyone. He maintains through the whole case that he wasn’t threatening anyone,” Lockwood said. “He’s known as a fairly harmless guy who has eccentric ideas.”

Lockwood also said prosecutors had no video of the incident and that Herrick disputed the language he was alleged to have used.

“What I think it came down to was he (Sparks, the assistant district attorney) didn’t have the evidence to support the charge,” Lockwood said.

Sparks declined to comment on why the Kenai District Attorney’s office dismissed the charge against Herrick.

“Unfortunately, the District Attorney’s office does not comment publicly regarding its decisions to pursue or not pursue prosecution of individual cases,” Sparks said in an email.

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

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