Judge rejects dismissal in helicopter hunting case

In a status hearing held in Homer District Court on Monday, Judge Margaret Murphy rejected a motion for dismissal filed by lawyers for Wilma TV in a case involving alleged hunting with helicopters associated with the Discovery Channel show, “Alaska: The Last Frontier.”

Wilma TV, Atz Lee Kilcher and his wife Jane Kilcher are charged with using a helicopter to hunt black bear in the fall of 2014. The charges stem from an episode of the show in which Jane Kilcher hunts for a bear. In a criminal complaint filed in late July, Kenai Assistant District Attorney Nick Torres alleged that the Kilchers and Wilma TV violated Alaska game laws prohibiting the use of helicopters to hunt. The incident came to light after someone with the production company for the show told troopers that a helicopter had been used in a black bear hunt, said Megan Peters, an Alaska State Troopers spokesperson.

Wilma TV tried to get the case dismissed by claiming the conduct of the crew involved was not within the scope of their employment. It also said the charges cited a section of Alaska law referring to people and not corporations. Murphy said the defense raised by Wilma TV was a matter to be decided at trial. She conceded that Torres had cited the wrong law in charging documents, but if she dismissed the case, the state would only refile a corrected complaint. Murphy then directed Torres to file an amended complaint.

The Kilchers also had a status hearing on Monday, but weren’t present. Torres said he has been working with their lawyer to reach a resolution, but they were not ready. Murphy continued the case to a hearing at 9 a.m. Jan. 11, 2016.