The Washington Post

Former Marine Michael Poth to be sentenced in fatal stabbing

A former Marine convicted of fatally stabbing another Marine during an altercation near Capitol Hill’s Barracks Row two years ago is scheduled to be sentenced Friday in D.C. Superior Court.

In court documents filed to Judge Russell F. Canan, prosecutors are requesting Michael Poth, 22, be sentenced to the maximum of 15 years in prison for the April 21, 2012 fatal stabbing of fellow Marine Philip Bushong, 23.

Poth was charged with second-degree murder in the slaying, but a jury in December acquitted him of that charge and instead found him guilty of the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter.

Poth’s attorney Bernie Grimm argued his client was acting in self-defense again Bushong, who along with a friend, got into the fight with Poth outside a restaurant in the 700 block of Eighth Street SE.

During the November trial, witnesses testified that both Poth and Bushong, who did not know each other, had been drinking earlier in the evening. One witness testified during the trial that Poth called Bushong and his friend a homosexual slur when he saw them. Another witness then testified the two men got into an argument outside the restaurant, each calling the other a “boot” — a Marine term to describe a poor Marine or someone fresh out of boot camp.

Poth tested positive for using synthetic marijuana and had verbally assaulted other soldiers. At the time of the attack, Poth was living in a Marine barracks, about a block from where the stabbing occurred. Several months before the dispute, prosecutors said, military officials had initiated an “other than honorable” discharge of Poth based on prior incidents.

Last month, Grimm filed a request with the judge for a new trial on behalf of his client. In the request, Grimm alleged prosecutors had failed to disclose Bushong had been involved in two prior altercations less than a year with other individuals before his fight with Poth. Grimm also argued his client was entitled to a new trial after discovering that one juror failed to disclose his own criminal history and was a registered sex offender in D.C. and that another juror was a crime victim.

In a filing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Liebman denied Grimm’s assertions and asked the judge to reject the request.

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Keith Alexander covers crime, specifically D.C. Superior Court cases for The Washington Post. He has covered dozens of crime stories from Banita Jacks, the Washington woman charged with killing her four daughters, to the murder trial of slain federal intern Chandra Levy.



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