Marine Awaits Decision on Murder Charge in Washington, D.C.
Decision on Trial for Marine Pending After Fatal Shooting
A U.S. Marine is waiting to hear whether he will be charged with murder after a New Year’s Day shooting at his barracks in Washington, D.C.
His attorney presented evidence at a hearing last week that Lance Corporal Andrew Johnson was unaware his gun was loaded when he pulled the trigger, killing a fellow Marine.
The Article 32 hearing is supposed to determine whether military prosecutors will proceed to a court martial after the death of Lance Corporal Riley S. Kuznia.
Johnson said he removed a pistol from his holster "while dancing." He also has said he mistakenly believed he had unloaded the weapon.
Three witnesses at the hearing testified that Johnson appeared to be playfully pointing his gun at Kuznia’s head when he pulled the trigger. He then called out Kuznia’s name in apparent surprise at the shooting.
Johnson testified that Kuznia was his friend, that he never intended to hurt him and that he was heartbroken by the incident.
However, prosecutors said Johnson had a history of ignoring Marine procedures for unloading guns. It is supposed to be done under supervision at an appropriate location.
On previous occasions, he had improperly pulled his gun, once pointing it while unloaded at someone and pulling the trigger, prosecutors said. Evidence against him included cellphone video.
Under military court procedures, the decision on whether to proceed to a full trial on murder or other charges lies with the commander of the D.C. Marine barracks.
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