No more prison time for Anchorage man who shot mom and sister as a juvenile

Nesbett Courthouse in downtown Anchorage on June 9, 2020 (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

In a rare look at the inner workings of Alaska’s juvenile justice system, a man admitted Monday in court to killing his mother and sister in 2016 when he was 15 years old.

Now that he is 20 — the age limit for juvenile custody — and the case against him has been resolved in court, Corbin Duke walked out of the Anchorage courtroom with no additional jail time or conditions of release, after about four years at a juvenile detention facility. He is not allowed to own a concealable firearm.

“There is nothing else that the court can do in this case except hope that Mr. Duke abides by the law in the future,” state prosecutor Patrick McKay said.

Court proceedings against juveniles are almost never made public, but state prosecutors asked Superior Court Judge Kevin Saxby to open the final hearing, called an adjudication, and Saxby agreed. That was after an earlier decision that would have allowed the state to try Duke as an adult was overturned by the Alaska Supreme Court.

If he’d been tried and convicted of murder as an adult, Duke could have received up to 99 years in prison for each death.

McKay said in court Monday that Duke had been out all night before the day of the murders and was annoyed when his mother, Shannon Duke, woke him by turning on his bedroom light and told him to do some chores.

Duke did the chores, McKay said, but later in the day got a gun from his room, walked into his parents’ room where his mother was taking a nap, and shot her, while his then-3-year-old sister was at the foot of the bed. McKay said Duke shot his 18-year-old sister, Chloe Duke, as she came up the stairs. The younger sister was unharmed.

Duke’s attorney, John Bernitz, said he did not think it was fair that Duke’s final hearing had been made public. Bernitz said the attention would be detrimental to his client’s rehabilitation.

“It hurts my client and it hurts the family,” he said.

Bernitz argued in court that Duke had been working with a psychiatrist and had the support of his father, grandparents and younger sister, now 8.

“How this family can put up with that type of emotion and what happened to them is an inspiration to everyone,” Bernitz said.

When asked whether he wanted to speak at the hearing, Duke answered no.