After hearing emotional testimony from the victim's family, an Anchorage judge Friday sentenced a 19-year-old man to serve 50 years in prison for the July 2009 murder of another man who was beaten to death in Centennial Park for $7 and a case of beer.
Superior Court Judge Michael Spaan handed down the sentence to Marc Ewing for his role in the killing of James Lockery, 37, who had been sleeping in the park.
Ewing turned 18 just less than a month before the attack. He and Lawrence Lobdell beat Lockery all over his body, jumped on his head and stomach, walked away, and then returned to urinate on him, Anchorage police Detective David Cordie testified during Friday's sentencing hearing. Lobdell and Ewing left him choking on his own blood, the detective said.
Ewing pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the case. Lobdell developed a brain tumor while in jail and is out now, awaiting the results of a mental and physical evaluation to see if he's fit to stand trial.
"This was particularly depraved and senseless," Spaan said of the slaying. "I can't think of a second-degree murder that was worse."
Addressing Ewing directly, he said: "You need to be removed from society so you cannot hurt anyone for a long time."
Earlier in the hearing, retired Lt. Col. James Lockery Jr., the victim's father, fought back tears while addressing the court. The elder Lockery served a total of 40 years in the Army, including three when he re-enlisted after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He, his wife and daughter, also a soldier, traveled to Alaska for the sentencing.
James, his middle son, was born while the family was stationed in Germany, "when I was just a lieutenant," Lockery said. His son's love of the outdoors brought him to Alaska.
"Jim was in his glory," the elder Lockery said. "He was able to hunt and fish and trap to his heart's content. He was never happier. Jim held a variety of jobs in Alaska, from cannery work to fishing, drywall, carpentry, and caretaking for a wilderness lodge."
"We will never recover from this loss," Lockery said, adding later, "This is judgment day."
In his statement to the court, Ewing apologized to the family. His voice unsteady, he said he was high on cocaine, Ecstasy and pot and didn't really remember what happened.
"I don't know what to say. I thought about it the last year and a half, and I still don't know," he said. "I can't cry in front of people. I don't know, I just don't do that."
Of those in the courtroom Friday, Ewing was one of the few who did not shed tears.
"This job doesn't ever get easier," veteran criminal defense attorney Sidney Billingslea, who represented Ewing, said to the court. She grabbed a tissue to wipe her eyes after describing how Ewing had in fact cried with her while they talked at the jail.
Mary Ewing, Marc's mother, told the court her son was not a monster, that he was a follower and "in the wrong place at the wrong time." She said she was upset that Lobdell, the other man who beat Lockery, might not be punished for his role.
Lockery was an avid outdoorsman who hunted and fished and loved to live "out under the stars," his sister and mother told the court. That was the reason he was sleeping in the park. He loved Alaska because "there's no grime," his mother AnnaMarie said. He once found enough gold prospecting in Alaska to make her a ring, AnnaMarie said.
Army Sgt. Kerstin Lockery, the victim's sister, flew to Anchorage from Detroit on a four-day pass before a scheduled deployment in the coming weeks to Iraq for the second time. She's been to Afghanistan once too, and visited Anchorage in September to see where her brother had been killed.
Kerstin Lockery talked fondly of her brother, and also addressed Ewing, cursing at him at one point, and then apologizing to Spaan.
"Marc, you have nothing human in you," Kerstin, dressed in Army fatigues, said raising her voice. "It makes me sick seeing you and knowing you're in the same room."
"Not one day goes by where it gets easier or it gets better," she said.
Three of Lockery's longtime hunting buddies, who had never before met the family, talked with the Lockerys and passed around photos before the hearing started.
After the victim's brother, Brian, spoke to the court by phone, the friends -- Scott Rendich, Dan Lewis, and Carmen Felix -- also testified. They told stories of Jim Lockery's kindness and spirit of adventure in hunting and gold prospecting.
"He was out camping that way because he didn't want to be a burden on anybody," Lewis told the court. "He would have been better off in Kodiak living with animals."
"I just hope you get what's coming to you, bud," Lewis said to Ewing.
The defendant's mother, Mary Ewing, said she hoped the Lockery family could forgive her son.
"I feel sorry for their loss, but I'm getting ready to lose too," Mary Ewing said before the sentence was handed down.
"I forgive them for hating my son," she said later in court.
Prosecutor Clint Campion said the sentence was appropriate.
"It's a brutal crime," he said. "It's as brutal a crime as we'll ever see," he said.
While the Lockery family had hoped Ewing would spend 99 years behind bars, they were glad to get "a middle number," Kerstin said.
"To me, eternity will never be enough," she said. "Legally, it's acceptable."
Neither Kerstin nor her parents, AnnaMarie and James, were sure if they could ever forgive Ewing for killing Jim.
"We're a Catholic family; we understand forgiveness," Kerstin said. "But it's too soon."
The family flew home to Arizona on Friday night.
Find Casey Grove online at adn.com/contact/casey.grove or call him at 257-4589.
By CASEY GROVE
Anchorage Daily News