Treatment of Defects

A U.S. Coast Guard seaman will spend 14 months in military prison followed by a bad conduct discharge for his part in the death of a fellow crew member in late January 2019.

A general court-martial concluded Sept. 17 that Ethan Tucker was not guilty of involuntary manslaughter and negligent homicide, according to Senior Chief NyxoLyno Cangemi.

However, the judge did find Tucker guilty of the remainder of his charges: making a false official statement, assault consummated by a battery, consuming alcohol underage and for doing or failing to do certain acts that contributed to a Coast Guard member’s death.

According to the Coast Guard, Ethan Kelch, 19, was reported missing Jan. 26, 2019, while the Coast Guard Cutter Douglas Munro was in port receiving repairs. He was found unresponsive the following day on the west side of Amaknak Island.

Charges were announced days later by the Coast Guard. Investigators initially alleged Tucker beat Kelch and dragged his body to the water where he was left to drown.

Tucker’s defense attorney told a different story, saying a bystander’s video of the night shows Tucker’s effort to get Kelch out of the water before Tucker collapsed, exhausted and intoxicated.

This week, Tucker was sentenced to a bad conduct discharge, reduction to pay grade to the lowest in the Coast Guard and 14 months confinement in a military prison. He will be serving his sentence in the Naval Consolidated Brig, in Miramar, California, according to Cangemi.

“Once he’s done finishing his sentence, he’ll receive a bad conduct discharge and will be dismissed from serving in the U.S. military,” Cangemi said. “When he receives his discharge papers, if he were to go apply for a job and they find out that he has any type of military service, and they look into it, they could see that he had a bad conduct discharge, they could see the court-martial on there, the reduction of pay grade, and the confinement — so it’s a big deal living on the outside, in the civilian world, with a bad military record.”

Cangemi said Tucker can appeal the ruling.

A Ludington man was sentenced to 14 months of confinement in the brig after the proceedings of a general court martial from the U.S. Coast Guard Thursday in Alameda, California.

Seaman Ethan Tucker, of Ludington, was facing charges in relation to the death of fellow seaman Ethan Kelch of Virginia Beach, Virginia, in January 2019 in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, after both were serving aboard the cutter Douglas Munro. Tucker was found not guilty of involuntary manslaughter and negligent homicide by a military judge from the general court martial proceedings that began Sept. 8, the Coast Guard announced Friday.

“We are mindful that the loss of their beloved son, grandson, nephew and brother has caused the Kelch family more pain than anyone should have to endure,” stated U.S. Navy Cmdr. Justin Henderson, who was representing Tucker during the ordeal, to the Daily News. “Within hours after Ethan Kelch’s tragic death twenty months ago, Coast Guard investigators and officials wrongly blamed Seaman Tucker. As we expected, a trial on the facts vindicated him — the military judge who heard all the government’s evidence acquitted Seaman Tucker of causing SN Kelch’s death.”

Tucker, a 2017 graduate of Ludington High School, was found guilty of making a false official statement, assault consummated by battery, a violation of a general order for consuming alcohol while underage and “doing or failing to do certain acts that contributed to a Coast Guard member’s death which was to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the Armed Forces.” Henderson told the Daily News he pleaded guilty to those charges.

Tucker was sentenced to 14 months confinement, a reduction to a paygrade of an enlisted member of the armed services of E-1 and will receive a bad conduct discharge.

Tucker was, at one point, charged with murder, aggravated assault and obstructing justice among other charges. He underwent two Article 32 hearings, which are similar to preliminary hearings in civilian court. After the first Article 32 hearing, he was confined Camp Pendleton in California. Shortly before his reopened Article 32 hearing, he was released from confinement after an appeal by Henderson. Upon his release, he was assigned to a Coast Guard base in Alameda, California, and worked in base logistics.

It was determined by officials that Tucker should face a general court-martial. Henderson said Tucker received 249 days of credit against his confinement and will likely serve a little less than five months in the brig.

“This process underscored once again the importance of avoiding any rush to judgment or prosecution through the media. Too many times in recent years, court-martial defense teams have had to remind the government that proving guilt requires a fair trial in an open courtroom,” Henderson said.

The general court martial was initially set for June, but the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the hearings back on motions and the court martial itself.

nixon keago
Keago, center, at the Naval Academy Preparatory School in 2016 (USN file image)

BY THE MARITIME EXECUTIVE 08-16-2020 11:02:53

A U.S. Naval Academy midshipman has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for sexual assault and a range of related charges.

Nixon Keago, a Kenyan-born student who played as a midfielder on the school’s soccer team, was court-martialed last October. Prosecutors accused him of committing burglary, obstruction of justice, attempted sexual assault and sexual assault in connection with four separate attacks on three female midshipmen.

According to prosecutor Lt. Cmdr. Paul LaPlante, Keago allegedly broke into a victim’s room and assaulted her while she was asleep. He allegedly attacked two other female midshipmen during a Fleet Week cruise in New York. Prosecutors said that afterwards, he pressured a victim to lie about the circumstances of the case, leading to a charge of obstruction of justice.

The last incident allegedly occurred after Keago knew that he was facing court-martial. Given the pattern, a government witness specializing in forensic recidivism testified that Keago had a high likelihood of committing repeat offenses.

In July, the court-martial’s seven-member panel convicted him of these charges, but sentencing was delayed when Keago developed symptoms of COVID-19. Proceedings resumed on August 14, and the court sentenced him to discharge from the military and 25 years in prison – less than the prosecution’s request for 40 years and much less than the maximum, 120 years.

Keago plans to appeal, according to the Capital Gazette. In addition, his family intends to file a civil suit against the U.S. Naval Academy regarding member selection and the racial composition of the panel.

The Marine Corps has temporarily dismissed charges against a junior officer who has accused of having ties to white supremacists so that investigators can look into new allegations of misconduct, a Corps spokesman said on Monday.

Marine 2nd Lt. Felippe Maher had been slated to appear before a general court-martial later this month before the case was withdrawn on Sept. 9.

The charges against Maher were dismissed without prejudice, which means they can still be brought to a court-martial, said Capt. Sam Stephenson, a spokesman for Training and Education Command.

The prosecution decided to start the case over in light of recent alleged misconduct that was discovered two weeks prior to Maher’s original trial date, said Stephenson, who declined to comment about what the latest allegations against Maher entail because the matter is currently under investigation.

Maher had been charged with violating a lawful general order for allegedly advocating supremacist and extremist doctrine; making a false official statement for allegedly saying he never belonged to a white supremacist group; wrongfully getting a tattoo that is affiliated with extremists; conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, and wrongfully trying to possess steroids, Stephenson told Task & Purpose in March.

Marine officials first confirmed in June 2019 that Maher was under investigation after a Twitter user shared what appeared to be racist pictures and video posted on Maher’s Snapchat account, including the use of a racial epithet to describe former President Barack Obama.

The Twitter user also shared a picture of a man who bears a resemblance to Maher standing near white supremacist Richard Spencer at a Nazi rally, but Task & Purpose has been unable to determine if the man in the picture is actually Maher.

Maher’s defense counsel could not be reached for comment on Monday.

A defence force serviceman in uniform by a military grade vehicle
Captain William Michael Howieson was the ADF liaison officer at the Taurama barracks when the incident allegedly took place.(Supplied)

The court martial of an Army captain facing charges of indecency and bringing discredit to the Australian Defense Force has heard his accuser had a motive to lie.

Captain William Michael Howieson, 29, was the ADF liaison officer with the Papua New Guinea defence force during an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Port Moresby at the time of the alleged offence in 2018.

Captain Howieson is accused of asking a PNG army nurse to examine him for a lump in his groin.

She told the court that when he took his pants down, he had an erection, and she could find no lump.

She also told the court about a later incident when she said he had brought what he said was a doctor’s note asking her to help him collect sperm over five days.

Captain Howieson denies either incident happened.

“I don’t recall going into treatment room one,” he told the court martial.

Prosecutor Brigadier Jennifer Woodward cross-examined him, putting each allegation to him.

Brigadier Woodward: “You went into treatment room one with the pretext of seeking medical treatment from her.”

Captain Howieson: “No, ma’am.”

Brigadier Woodward: “You used the pretext … to get some sexual thrill by having [the complainant] touch your groin.”

Captain Howieson: “No.”

Captain Howieson has maintained he went to the health unit twice on one day, delivering first medical supplies and then T-shirts, something Brigadier Woodward queried.

“You did not bring T-shirts with you,” she said.

“I did take T-shirts on the sixteenth,” he replied.

Allowances a source of tension and motive, court martial hears

The court martial heard the pair had met before when the PNG army nurse had asked for his help stocking an ambulance provided by the Chinese government.

The woman had also asked for fuel.

Captain Howieson said he was able to help with most of it, but that the woman was flustered about extra allowances, which he had paid in the past, not being paid.

Brigadier Woodward questioned his account.

“The fact is you made it up because it’s just too awful for you to admit what you did,” she said.

“No,” he replied.

Captain Howieson’s lawyers told the court the allowances had been a source of tension, and were a motive for the alleged victim to lie.

They also suggested he had too much to lose to risk it on an “elaborate scheme for sexual gratification”.

The court was told Captain Howieson had been planning his career since he joined the cadets at 13, and would be unlikely to just throw it all away.

The five-member court martial panel will resume on Monday.