Prosecutor deems Marine’s death hate crimeAround the Nation, Bottom Highlights, Top Highlights Wednesday, May 30th, 2012
WASHINGTON – The fatal stabbing last month of a Marine by a fellow Marine on Capitol Hill’s Barracks Row was a hate crime, the lead prosecutor in the case said in court last week.
The Washington Post reported that Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Liebman said that Michael Poth, 20, stabbed Philip M. Bushong, 23, after yelling a slur against homosexuals. The stabbing occurred minutes after Poth saw Bushong and a gay male friend hug outside Molly Malone’s saloon in the 700 block of Eighth Street SE April 21, Liebman said.
Poth, 20, was charged with second-degree murder while armed. Before a preliminary hearing in D.C. Superior Court, two uniformed Marines entered the courtroom and informed attorneys that Poth had been given an other-than-honorable discharged for his conduct before last month’s incident. Liebman said the Marines had been working on Poth’s discharge since November, when Poth tested positive for using synthetic marijuana. Poth also had verbally assaulted other soldiers and had to be restrained, Liebman said.
Poth’s attorney, David Benowitz, said that his client was protecting himself the night Bushong died.
Liebman played video from security cameras outside restaurants and stores near the Marine barracks. The footage shows Bushong and a friend outside the saloon, laughing and smoking a cigarette.
D.C. homicide detective Duane Partman testified that Bushong’s friend is gay and that he and Bushong, who was heterosexual, were socializing when Poth walked past.
A video shows Poth kick over an advertising stand and walk toward Bushong and his friend. Partman said witnesses said Poth then yelled the gay slur.
“This was a hate crime,” Liebman said. “The victim and his friend were embracing outside.”
Poth allegedly shouted “Good, I hope he dies” after hearing that Bushong, who was stabbed once in the chest, was being taken to a hospital, Partman testified.
Judge Ronna L. Beck ordered Poth to remain in jail on the murder charge.
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