Ex-soldier sentenced for role in Russian roulette case

Eagle River man's friend died playing game with his gun.

Anchorage Daily NewsMay 2, 2012 

A former soldier acquitted in the death of his friend during a drunken game of Russian roulette in Eagle River is set to spend about four months in jail for misdemeanor weapons misconduct.

A jury found Jacob Brouch, 27, not guilty on a manslaughter charge for the 2011 death of Michael McCloskey.

McCloskey, the survivor of two tours of duty with Army, was 26 when he shot himself in the stomach and died. He and Brouch drank heavily and played with guns, and prosecutors alleged that Brouch was criminally reckless by forcing McCloskey to play Russian roulette.

Brouch's attorney said Brouch told the Anchorage Superior Court judge that handed down the sentence -- 120 days, which he already served, and three years of probation during which Brouch cannot drink or have a gun -- that the manslaughter charges, hanging over his head for months, ruined his marriage and his career with the Army. The attorney, Dunnington Babb, said Brouch offered to plead guilty in October to a misdemeanor related to the shooting, but prosecutors would not make a deal.

"I think it's impossible to ignore that additional toll over six or seven months that it put on Mr. Brouch," Babb said. "He was still in the military and in a relationship when we made that offer, and now both of those things have been taken away from him."

The ultimate outcome and sentence were appropriate, Babb said, but it nearly matched the offer they'd made earlier.

Prosecutor Joe Kovac confirmed that the District Attorney's Office took a pass on the deal. He said the case was too important not to let a jury decide.

"We knew it was a difficult case from the beginning," Kovac said. "So I can't feel good or bad about it, really. It was a question for the community. We made a presentation to the community and the community spoke."

Though jail time is not typical for a misdemeanor weapons charge, both Kovac and Babb said it was appropriate considering the circumstances of the case.

Reach Casey Grove at casey.grove@adn.com or 257-4589.

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