Hearing continued in 2012 boat arson case

A change of plea hearing scheduled for Monday in the case of Makai “Mike” Martushoff, 59, has been continued to 1 p.m. Aug. 8 at the Homer Courthouse. 

According to one of the alleged victims in the case, lawyer Michael Hough, Martushoff was scheduled to appear for a hearing in which a charge of first-degree arson, a class A felony, would be reduced to criminally negligent burning, a misdemeanor. If the plea deal stands, Martushoff would serve no more than one year in jail.

Martushoff was charged with allegedly burning a fishing boat in dry dock at the Northern Enterprises Boatyard on Oct. 29, 2012.

Police allege Martushoff intentionally set his father’s boat, the Slava II, on fire in an attempt to kill himself. The boat had major damage, but firefighters kept the fire from spreading to nearby boats. 

The Slava II was not insured.

Martushoff suffered burn injuries and was hospitalized. 

Police negotiated for several hours in an attempt to get Martushoff to surrender. Police alleged that Martushoff said he had a shotgun and would come out and shoot them. 

After five hours, police heard an explosion on the boat and Martushoff came out unarmed. 

Police also allege Martushoff threatened his father and Hough, the father’s lawyer. The father had filed several civil suits against his son. Police alleged Martushoff threatened to kill his father and Hough and burn down their houses.

On Tuesday, Hough said he had concerns about the change of plea. The fire exposed Homer Police officers and Homer Volunteer Fire Department firefighters to danger both in negotiating with Martushoff and fighting the fire, Hough noted.

“The case itself, standing on its own, it seems to me it sure doesn’t differ from the typical arson case,” Hough said. “He burned a $500,000 boat and you get off with six months? It seems pretty outrageous.”

Hough said he wrote Attorney General Michael Geraghty about his concerns and is talking with assistant district attorney Kelly Lawson, who is prosecuting the case, about the change of plea. Geraghty had issued a policy on July 25 that said prosecutors would not negotiate on sentences for unclassified felonies, class a felonies, all sex crimes, all human trafficking crimes and all domestic violence crimes. It’s unclear if Martushoff had accepted a plea agreement before that policy took effect.

Lawson declined to comment for this story.

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