Despite a warning last month that she would need to see progress on a resolution in the case of two Homer brothers charged with second-degree sexual assault in relation to an incident last year at a Homer teen drinking party, Judge Margaret Murphy continued for another 30 days a preliminary hearing for Anthony Resetarits, 21, and Joseph Resetarits, 19.
The assault, and allegations that others photographed all or part of the incident and that bystanders did not intervene or call 911, shocked Homer when it became public after the arrests of the brothers in October. Alaska State Troopers charged that the brothers committed sexual penetration on the boy, then 17, with an object. The brothers were released on bail shortly after their arrest and have been allowed to leave Homer to fish commercially and also to attend college in the Lower 48.
At the last hearing, Murphy warned defense lawyers and the prosecution that she would need to see some progress by Tuesday’s hearing. Assistant District Attorney Scott Leaders said the state had made a plea agreement offer to defense lawyers last week and that progress had been made.
Murphy grudgingly accepted that progress, but warned both sides this would be the last continuance of a preliminary hearing.
“It’s time to get this case moving,” Murphy said.
Joseph Resetarits’ lawyer, Mike Moberly, said he had received an offer, but that it was “not appealing.” Neither side revealed the terms of the agreement. Moberly said he wanted more time to discuss the offer with his client and to educate him about the ramifications of it. Both brothers attended telephonically from out of state, where they are attending college. That drew a rebuke from Murphy.
“Quite frankly, both of you asked that they be permitted to depart the state,” Murphy said, speaking to Moberly and Lisa Rosano, an assistant to Phillip Weidner, Anthony Resetarits’ lawyer. Both lawyers also attended telephonically. “If being out of state is an impediment, there is a solution to that — come back in state.”
The mother of the victim protested the continuance for another 30 days. She said that she had already lost one job for having to appear in court and her life had been affected by the ongoing stress of court hearings. The boy left Alaska after the incident and now attends college out of state.
“I have to get on with my life,” the mother said. “Another 30 days seems ridiculous.”
Leaders agreed to the 30-day continuance.
“I understand the court’s frustration,” he said. “I understand the court’s instruction. We have made progress.”
Murphy said the defense and prosecution need to reach an agreement or take the charges to a grand jury. Under court rules for felony charges, a preliminary hearing must be held or a grand jury indictment charged within 10 days for a defendant in custody or 20 days for a defendant out of custody. Last week, for example, Murphy dismissed charges against a Homer man, Corey Rosano, charged with sexual abuse of a minor and child pornography because a preliminary hearing was not held within 10 days. Both sides can agree to continued preliminary hearings if a judge consents.
“I hope this will be the final time for if these parties have an agreement or if these cases will go to trial,” Murphy said.
Murphy set the next hearing for the Resetarits brothers for Oct. 3 at 3:30 p.m. By then it will have almost have been a year since they were arrested.
Michael Armstrong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.