Trial continues for Anchor Point sportfish guide

A change-of-plea hearing will be continued for an Anchor Point sportfish captain charged with 43 guide violations.

Mel Erickson, 55, was scheduled to appear in Homer District Court on Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 4, but neither he or his attorney, Joseph Skrha, attended in person or telephonically. Judge Margaret Murphy set a trial call for Erickson at 9 a.m. Monday, Oct. 10, when she knew Skrha would be available for other cases.

“I’m not inclined to charge a defendant with contempt of court when his attorney doesn’t show up,” Murphy said in court.

Assistant district attorney Nick Torres did attend telephonically. He said he had earlier discussions with Skrha regarding the terms of the change of plea. The clerk of court attempted to call Skrha at his office during Tuesday’s hearing, but the call went to voice mail.

Erickson faces 43 charges stemming from incidents in May 2015. In charging documents, Alaska Wildlife Trooper Trent Chwialkowski said that Erickson himself or his clients being guided continued to fish within 1 mile of shore near Anchor Point after catching king salmon in the early-run special harvest area, failed to record king salmon, took an annual overlimit of king salmon, took an annual overlimit of halibut, retained halibut as a charter guide, unlawfully discarded halibut carcasses, failed to retain halibut carcasses and failed to complete saltwater logbooks. The charges on the types of violations add up to 43 total. Erickson also was charged with retaining halibut in violation of National Marine Fisheries Services regulations and for chartering clients in violation of NMFS regulations. The charges came about after Chwialkowski said Erickson bragged on Facebook about his clients’ catch while they fished on Ericksons’ boat, the Gamefisher.

Murphy has not yet set a new time and date for Erickson’s change-of-plea hearing, but said it would most likely be held in early November.

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

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