Coast Guardsman charged with murder of shipmate in Alaska

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Coast Guard Cutter Munro (WMSL 755) underway from the shipyards in Pascagoula, Mississippi, in 2016.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- A Michigan native in the U.S. Coast Guard has been charged with the murder of a fellow shipmate.

Ethan W. Tucker, of Ludington, Michigan, was charged Wednesday with seven violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Charges include murder and involuntary manslaughter in the death of Ethan Kelch of Virginia Beach, Virginia, who died in Dutch Harbor, Alaska in January.

Kelch was found dead Jan. 27 along the shore of an island when their ship, the cutter Douglas Munro, was docked in nearby Dutch Harbor.

The charging document says he died of blunt force trauma to the head. The charges say Tucker lied when he said he injured his hand by punching a steel bulkhead after learning of Kelch's death.

"Since our shipmate's untimely passing, we have been in contact with his family to provide as much support as possible throughout this tragic and difficult time," said Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Brickey, the public affairs officer for the U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area.

"The charges today are the result of the Coast Guard's steadfast desire to gather all the facts and seek justice."

Tucker was taken into custody by Coast Guard authorities and transported to the Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar in San Diego where he awaits court martial proceedings.

If found guilty, the charges against Tucker carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, dishonorable discharge, and total forfeiture of pay and allowances.

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