WASHINGTON – A Marine accused of fatally stabbing another Marine during a fight in Washington told police he was acting in self-defense.
Michael Poth is charged with second degree murder in the death of 23-year-old Philip Bushong on Saturday. Court documents filed Monday say the slaying occurred around 3 a.m. in a neighborhood near the Marine Barracks in Southeast Washington.
The documents say 20-year-old Poth used knife to stab Bushong once in the chest. Bushong, who was based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., died at a hospital.
The court documents say Poth told police he stabbed Bushong because Bushong punched him in the head, and Poth was defending himself. Police detectives, however, did not notice any wounds, and Poth did not request medical treatment.
A witness told police Bushong followed Poth and grabbed him before Poth stabbed him.
But another witness says at least an hour before the attack, he saw a man walking in the same area who looked like Poth who said, “I’m going to stab somebody, or cut their lungs out.”
Defense attorney David Benowitz says Poth has no prior convictions, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Liebman says Poth has, in his words, “been nothing but trouble for the Marines”.
Liebman says even before Saturday’s stabbing, the military had been seeking an other than honorable discharge for Poth.
Liebman says the reasons include Poth’s use of the drug “Spice,” and insulting conduct toward other Marines.
D.C. Magistrate Judge Karen Howze ordered Poth held without bond until a hearing May 15.
There have been reports that Poth yelled a gay slur at Bushong before the stabbing, but that accusation did not come up during Monday’s arraignment hearing, and it is not mentioned in charging documents.
WTOP’s Michelle Basch contributed to this report.
(Copyright 2012 by AP and WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)