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Luch siblings speak out as father gets 60 years for wife's murder

Tegan Hanlon
The Luch siblings from left, Delia, Marcelyn, Letitia, and Brent visit the gravesite of their mother Jocelyn after their father's sentencing on Monday, Oct. 14, 2013. Robert Luch was sentenced to 60 years in prison for shooting death of his wife Jocelyn on Sept. 28, 2010.
Bill Roth
Robert Luch was sentenced to 60 years in prison on Monday, Oct. 14, 2013, for shooting death of his wife Jocelyn on Sept. 28, 2010.
Bill Roth
The Luch siblings, from left, Delia, Marcelyn, Brent, and Letitia, sit in the gallery of a Superior courtroom in Anchorage during the sentencing of their father Robert Luch on Monday, Oct. 14, 2013. Luch was sentenced to 60 years in prison for shooting death of his wife Jocelyn on Sept. 28, 2010.
Bill Roth

Robert Luch, convicted of killing his wife with a .38-caliber revolver in 2010, was sentenced Monday to 60 years in prison.

Luch, 65, remained silent as Judge Jack Smith delivered the sentence in Anchorage Superior Court. He could be eligible for parole in 20 years, the judge said. He has already served three. "People are living into their 80s a lot now," Smith said.

The murder trial earlier this year thrust Luch, the patriarch of a well-known Anchorage running family, into a spotlight that exposed control, power play and loyalty.

The unflattering snapshot of home life is one that the four Luch children, now between 21 and 23 years old, disputed throughout the court proceedings. And yet it's a picture that testimony from other family and friends continued to support.

They were conflicting images during a trial where one thing was clear: This wasn't a "whodunit" case. A jury convicted Luch of first- and second-degree murder in February. He killed his wife.

The question was intent.

The defense said that when Luch took the revolver and pulled the trigger twice on Sept. 28, 2010, it was a crime of passion. Luch has testified that the gun "just went off" as the couple fought over suspicions of Jocelyn's infidelity. He was using the gun to make a point and the shooting was inadvertent, he argued.

The prosecution said Luch bought the gun 11 days earlier with clear intent to aim it at Jocelyn and kill her. He was losing control of his wife of 21 years. "He murdered her in cold blood," said assistant district attorney Clint Campion.

Either way, the 40-year-old woman lay in a pool of blood in a bathroom in the family's home. Either way, Luch tried and failed to swallow pills after he shot the gun. And, either way, two of their children, Brent and Marcelyn, were left covered in their mother's blood, the son on the phone with a 911 dispatcher, both attempting to save her life.

Jocelyn died two days later.

When the judge delivered the sentence Monday, the children, sitting side-by-side behind their father as they have since the trial began in January, hardly stirred.

"We've been going through the same motions for three years," Brent said later.

Brent is 23 years old, an officer in the U.S. Air Force and married in December. Letitia and Delia are 22-year-old twins who live with 21-year-old Marcelyn in their family home. They're remodeling the bathroom where their mother bled. The girls are all enrolled in college and working full-time jobs as front desk clerks at local hotels.

"We had to grow up really quick," Letitia said.

Delia said she makes the meals for her siblings because she's "the best cook." They all agree they're close. They were home-schooled and constantly around each other. Outside of the courtroom, the four Luch children interrupt and finish each other's sentences, talking about family trips, birthdays and the races they ran as children.

A LOOK INTO A FAMILY

Inside the courtroom on Monday, they sat quietly, monochromatically dressed -- all in black.

Their father entered in a mustard yellow jumpsuit. He wore light pink socks and white Nike sneakers on his feet and handcuffs around his wrists. He grinned and winked in the direction of the Luch children before taking his seat.

The pre-sentence testimony on Monday continued in the theme of the trial -- a light and dark look into a family before a murder.

Eleanor Moore, who was presented by the prosecution as Jocelyn's sister, spoke over the phone. She said she lived with the family for five years and experienced "first hand the constant physical and emotional abuse" inflicted by Luch.

"He would not allow her to go shopping for clothes on her own," she said. "Even when she went grocery shopping, she had to prove what she spent."

She said the children told her they didn't want her to testify because they wanted their father to get out of prison and be a grandfather someday.

The siblings also spoke. During the trial, they gave testimony differing from statements given to police the night their mother was shot.

Marcelyn told police her father said he was going to shoot Jocelyn. In court, she said she didn't remember her father making threats.

On Monday, Letitia read from a piece of lined notebook paper she had been scribbling on and editing with a ballpoint pen. She described her family as loving, caring and happy. There was "never-ending laughter," she told the judge.

Letitia and her siblings all defended their father and upheld his character. They stressed that the court and the news media don't know anything about their home life. They said they'd be nowhere without their family.

"Everybody loved each other," Letitia told the judge.

The children did not speak of their mother during their statements Monday.

"Her four children should be embarrassed of themselves because they didn't make any mention of their mother or what she did for them," the prosecutor, Campion, told the judge.

'THERE'S NO SIDE FOR US'

When it came Luch's turn to speak, he began by attacking Moore. He said she was not actually his wife's sister and went on at length about illegal documents and passports.

"My wife absolutely despised her," he said.

He went on to tell the court that he has loved his wife since the first time he saw her in the Philippines. He said he couldn't imagine living without her, but backpedaled to say he was "not inferring suicide."

And then, he said that his wife's love is still here and "it flows through all of us." He turned around to face the four children and said, "Is that right, kids?" They all nodded.

After the sentencing, they walked out of the courtroom. Brent waved off camera crews. They walked down the hallway and agreed to talk to the Daily News.

"I feel like I finally have the weight of the world off my shoulders," Letitia said about the trial's end.

They all chattered over each other, frustrated that they were accused of forgetting their mother.

"For us, this hasn't been about whose side ...," Brent started.

"There's no side for us," Delia interrupted.

"We weren't sitting there with pompoms cheering for our father," Brent said. "It's just family. If the roles had been switched and it was our mother in our father's shoes we would've done the exact same thing."

They left the courtroom for their mother's grave in a red Ford Escape and parked near the site of a makeshift white cross. They said they didn't have the money for a headstone and relied on donations to cover funeral costs.

The girls said they visit their father in jail once a week. They sit at their mother's grave site every Sunday after church or sometimes alone during the week if they are fighting or want to tell her about a new boyfriend, Letitia said.

It's how life has changed September 2010.

"This is actually happening," Delia said, reflecting on her father's sentence. She stood next to the grave where a glass vase sat with white and red flowers. "I didn't realize it until today."

Reach Tegan Hanlon at thanlon@adn.com or 257-4589. Follow her on Twitter twitter.com/teganhanlon

 


By TEGAN HANLON
thanlon@adn.com