Kevin Nauska kept his head down, occasionally wiping his eyes during Monday’s hearing, which sent him to prison for two years after he pleaded no contest to criminally negligent homicide in the stabbing death of Jordon Sharclane.
When asked if he wanted to say anything to the Sharclane family — including Jordon’s son, Michael, who was severely wounded in the Dec. 6, 2015 altercation — Nauska’s response was inaudible.
“He just wants to say he’s sorry,” said his public defender, Eve Soutiere.
The courtroom in Juneau Superior Court was packed, mostly with members of the Sharclane family. At one point, as Jordon’s mother Myrna Brown spoke, Jordon’s five children stood up in a row, mutely testifying to their loss.
“The grief is non-stop,” Brown said. “People tell me I’m strong, but I’m not strong. I’m ready to break down.”
She covered her face briefly, struggling for composure, then continued.
“I wish Jordon was here. It’s hard for me to keep going.”
Michael Sharclane was asked if he wanted to speak, but elected to have his uncle, Daniel Paul Brown, speak for him.
Daniel Brown asked for Nauska to receive a longer sentence, saying that Jordon’s fatal stabbing did not only deprive his children of their father, but the Tlingit community of a potential leader.
“I feel this was done with malice,” he said. “I believe this man is a threat to the community.”
Nauska’s plea agreement was for a five-year sentence, with three years suspended. Because the presumptive sentence for criminally negligent homicide is for one to three years, he had to admit to an aggravating factor of using a dangerous instrument — in this case, a knife.
During the sentencing hearing, District Attorney James Scott called the death of Jordon Sharclane “deeply, deeply tragic,” but noted that self-defense could have been a big factor if Nauska had gone to trial.
As he did during the plea agreement hearing, Scott said the fatal altercation began with a group of young men drinking at the beach.
Scott said Nauska grabbed Michael’s hoodie and bolted; Michael erroneously believed his cellphone or 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 apartment; Nauska eventually grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed him.
Michael retreated out of the apartment and down the stairs with Nauska following him. That’s when Jordon was stabbed once by Nauska, Scott said.
“No two accounts from the witnesses regarding the fine details were precisely identical,” he said.
According to Scott, the grand jury that indicted Nauska reviewed the law surrounding self-defense and the facts of the case, which involved “a 19-year-old boy who had been drinking and who was confronted by a peer and three adults.”
“This entire sad, tragic affair was avoidable,” Scott said, concluding that while the sentence was not perfect, it was just.
Soutiere noted that Nauska “felt overwhelmed and overpowered,” and added that he was being punched in the head as he was trying to push Michael Sharclane out the door.
“We don’t know a lot about what happened,” she said. “The witnesses, a lot of them were very intoxicated. I think the (plea) agreement is very fair.”
Before he handed down Nauska’s sentence, Judge Philip Pallenberg asked Myrna Brown to stand up so he could see the photo of Jordon Sharclane emblazoned on her sweatshirt.
Pallenberg noted that the two years that Nauska will serve falls right in the middle of the presumptive sentencing range for criminally negligent homicide. He did opt to impose a five-year probation term with conditions that include no alcohol or controlled substances, including marijuana.
“This is really hard,” Pallenberg said. “If there was anything I could do, it’s silly to even say it, but if there was anything I could do to bring Jordon back I would do that. If putting Kevin Nauska in jail for the rest of his life would bring Jordon back, of course I would do that.”
Reporter Liz Kellar can be contacted at 523-2246 or firstname.lastname@example.org.