A Coast Guard seaman accused in the strangling and beating death of a shipmate was “best buddies” with the victim and had struggled with him to keep him from swimming in frigid Alaskan waters, according to his lawyer.
Seaman Ethan Tucker, 21, appeared Wednesday in a preliminary hearing at Camp Pendleton, Calif. to determine if there’s enough evidence to go forward with a court martial. He faces murder, involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, obstructing justice and other charges in the death of 19-year-old Seaman Ethan Kelch. Both were assigned to the Kodiak, Alaska-based cutter Douglas Munro, which was awaiting repairs in Dutch Harbor when Kelch went missing during the evening of January 26.
Kelch, who was from Virginia Beach, was found unresponsive on the western side of Amaknak Island.