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Coast Guardsman Charged In Unalaska Murder Released From Custody

Berett Wilber/KUCB

A U.S. Coast Guardsman accused of murdering his shipmate has been released from custody as he awaits his next hearing.

Seaman Ethan Tucker, 21, was released Monday from a military prison in San Diego, where he's been confined since late August. He's charged with seven violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice for killing Seaman Ethan Kelch, 19, during a night of heavy drinking in Unalaska last winter.

Both Tucker, of Ludington, MI, and Kelch, of Virginia Beach, VA, were stationed aboard the Cutter Douglas Munro, based in Kodiak.

It's unclear why Tucker has been released a month after his defense attorney and military prosecutors presented their preliminary cases. It's also unclear whether he'll be subject to special security measures or allowed to leave the Coast Guard's base in Alameda, California.

"There, he will perform duties such as working in the mail room, setting up equipment, stages, and chairs for presentations, and other duties as necessary for the base," said Coast Guard Assistant Public Affairs Officer NyxoLyno Cangemi in an email.

KUCB's request for further information was not immediately returned.

Tucker's next hearing is scheduled for Dec. 3. After that, Cangemi said the Coast Guard's Pacific Area commander will decide whether the case should proceed to a court-martial trial.

If the case goes to trial and Tucker is found guilty, he could face life imprisonment, dishonorable discharge, and total forfeiture of pay and allowances.

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