A 44-year-old Soldotna man pleaded guilty to a single charge of manslaughter Thursday afternoon at the Kenai Courthouse.
On July 16, 2010, Lyle Ludvick shot 23-year-old Brendan McGee in the head with a shotgun at close range over a $500 payment for a gun, according to court records.
Judge Charles Huguelet accepted the defendant’s plea, clarifying that Ludvick was giving up his right to a jury trial.
Ludvick’s original charges included two counts of second-degree murder, first-degree burglary, third-degree assault and tampering with physical evidence.
Appearing in a worn yellow jumpsuit, Ludvick said little else than “guilty.”
If the court accepts the plea agreement at sentencing, the aforementioned charges will be dropped, said Scot Leaders, Kenai district attorney.
Defense attorney Michael Moberly said there is an agreement between the defendant and the state of a maximum sentence of 11 years in prison with seven served.
The offer also indicates 10 years probation, but it’s possible the length will be reduced to seven years, Moberly said.
McGee’s family and friends were present during Thursday’s hearing. His brother Kevin, 21, said the state’s handling of the case angered him.
The two initial murder charges alleged Ludvick exhibited extreme indifference to the value of a human life. A manslaughter charge indicates that his conduct was simply reckless in causing the death.
Kevin said Ludvick intended to kill his brother.
“It was premeditated,” he said. “He went there with a shotgun, and he knew what he was doing. I don’t see how someone can shoot somebody in the face and only get seven years.”
According to court records, a witness, identified as Thomas Mason, told Alaska State Troopers a man he did not know came to a one-room cabin at 47895 Andrews Ave., in Soldotna on July 16, 2010 at about 2 p.m. and asked to speak with McGee.
Mason said he was going outside to “draw” when the man appeared at the cabin’s door carrying a shotgun. The man, whom Mason later identified as Ludvick, asked to speak with McGee, who was asleep at the time. Mason told troopers he backed out of the way and Ludvick entered.
The two then stood within a foot of each other and argued over the $500 payment for a gun. McGee then started to get up and the man discharged the shotgun.
Buckshot hit McGee in the lower face and neck, according to court records. Troopers said investigators retrieved pellets from the wall directly behind the body consistent with the direction of the shot.
Ludvick has remained at Wildwood Correctional Center since his arrest in late July 2010.
Sentencing is scheduled for April 16 at the Kenai Courthouse.
— Editor's note: A previous version of this story contained an error, which has been corrected.
Jerzy Shedlock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.