The trials of 21 Kuskokwim subsistence fishermen aren’t scheduled until April but new court documents have been submitted from the Alaska District Attorney’s office in Bethel. The state is opposing two experts the defense wants to testify in the non-jury trials.
Defense attorney, James Davis Jr., wants Chase Hensel and Robert Nick Jr. to testify as Yup’ik culture experts. They would testify that the defendants’ subsistence fishing is protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the Alaska Constitution, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Today, Assistant District Attorney, Chris Carpeneti, submitted documents opposing these witnesses and is asking the court to exclude their testimony.
The fishermen are being charged with illegal fishing on the Kuskokwim River during the poor King salmon run this past summer. The area was closed to large salmon nets but the fishermen said they were fishing for their families.
There is a pretrial conference set for April 12 with trials set to start April 15.