The suspect in a December 2015 confrontation that ended with a man dead and his son seriously injured has pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of criminally negligent homicide.
Kevin Scott Nauska, 20, took a plea agreement in Juneau Superior Court Friday that could net him just two years in prison — a five-year deal with three years suspended.
A judge will decide whether to accept the agreement at a sentencing hearing scheduled for March 13. Criminally negligent homicide is a Class B felony with a potential maximum 10-year sentence.
The proposed plea deal also calls for Nauska to be placed on probation for an undetermined length of time after he is released from prison.
Nauska was initially charged with manslaughter after reportedly killing 37-year-old Jordon Sharclane and injuring his son, Michael Sharclane, 19, on Dec. 6, 2015.
After Friday’s hearing, members of the Sharclane family huddled in prayer around Michael, who was in attendance in court for the first time.
“My heart is broken,” said Myrna Brown, Jordon’s mother and Michael’s grandmother. “There will be no justice.”
“We can’t bring (Jordon) back, certainly,” she added.
“My life is forever changed,” said an emotional Robert Sharclane, who was with Jordon and Michael that night. “I was very, very close to my brother — he always took care of me. … I’m having a really tough time.”
During the hearing in Superior Court, Juneau District Attorney James Scott took the time to put the case and the proposed plea deal in context, calling it a “just” outcome.
To call the stabbings a “senseless tragedy” was almost a cliché, Scott said, “but it’s certainly true in this case.”
Scott laid out the events of that night, which began with a group of young men drinking at the beach, he said.
Scott said Nauska grabbed Michael’s hoodie and bolted, in what Scott called “the kind of horseplay” that young men engage in.
Michael erroneously believed his cellphone and iPod were in the hoodie, and recruited his father and two uncles to help retrieve his property, Scott said.
Scott then described an altercation between Michael and Nauska, with Michael forcing his way into the condo and demanding the return of his belongings. Nauska forced him out the door, but Michael came back in before Nauska grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed him.
Michael retreated back out of the condo and down the stairs with Nauska following him. That’s when Jordon “entered the fray” and was stabbed once by Nauska, Scott said.
Nauska then threw his knife into the woods, but claimed he was not trying to ditch it and led the police to where he had tossed it, Scott said.
According to Scott, during Nauska’s indictment hearing, the grand jury engaged in a “granular-level” analysis of the law surrounding self-defense.
After Nauska managed to get Michael out of the condo, he could have closed the door and locked it. Instead, said Scott, he followed him out into a common area, where he engaged in a further confrontation that ended in the fatal stabbing of Jordon.
That decision moves a claim of self-defense out of the realm of being reasonable, which is why the grand jury indicted Nauska on a charge of manslaughter rather than murder, Scott said.
And that’s why a plea of criminally negligent homicide was a reasonable outcome, Scott said, acknowledging that the Sharclane family probably disagrees.
“I know you’ve suffered a tremendous loss,” Judge Philip Pallenberg told the Sharclane family, who will be able to speak to the court at Nauska’s March 13 sentencing.
After Friday’s hearing, Robert Sharclane disputed the version of events presented by Scott in the courtroom.
“I’m just very confused,” he said. “We weren’t able to tell (the judge) what really happened. ... That’s not the way it went down.”
For one, Robert said, he was the person who told the police that Nauska ran around the corner to throw his knife away.
And, according to Robert, Nauska stabbed Jordon twice rather than just once, after he ran to protect Michael.
“If my brother didn’t step in his way, my nephew would have been done,” he said.