The U.S. Coast Guard is holding a preliminary hearing Wednesday for a seaman charged with killing his Cutter Douglas Munro shipmate in Unalaska last winter.
The hearing's purpose is to determine whether there's probable cause that Seaman Ethan Tucker, 21, of Ludington, MI, struck and strangled Seaman Ethan Kelch, 19, of Virginia Beach, VA, before leaving his body in waters near the port.
"An article 32 hearing is a preliminary hearing required under the Uniform Code of Military Justice before referring charges to a general court-martial," said Coast Guard Public Affairs Officer NyxoLyno Cangemi.
A general court-martial trial is the highest level of court-martial proceedings.
If the case goes to trial and Tucker is found guilty, he could face dishonorable discharge and life imprisonment.
Tucker is currently being held at a military prison in San Diego, charged with seven violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, including murder, involuntary manslaughter, and aggravated assault.
The allegations were announced in August after a seven-month inquiry by the Coast Guard Investigative Service, with help from Unalaska and state authorities.
Officials have declined to comment on a motive for the crime. They've also declined to comment on Tucker's prior military record and whether it includes any misconduct, citing the confidentiality of personnel records.
The hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 16 at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in California.
Correction: This story previously misstated Ethan Tucker's age. He is 21 years old, not 19.