Michael Poth Pleads Innocent to Second-Degree Murder in Stabbing Death of Marine

Michael Poth pleaded innocent to one count of second-degree murder while armed Friday for the killing of fellow Marine Phillip Bushong in April.

Prosecutors have offered Poth a plea agreement that will remain open until his next status hearing on Sept. 7. The terms of the agreement were not immediately available.

Charging documents in the case rely in part on the testimony of an on-duty Marine who told police that he saw Poth and Bushong, who was accompanied by another person, walking towards each other on 8th Street Southeast just before Bushong was killed. The three exchanged words, the Marine said, then Bushong turned to follow Poth. Poth threatened, “I’m going to stab you.”

At a preliminary hearing in May, prosecutors showed the court surveillance cameras video of Poth just before Bushong was killed. The videos showed a man identified as Poth waving a knife in the air and kicking over a restaurant advertisement. Evidence presented at the hearing stated that a witness told police that that night Poth used a homophobic slur to address a gay man, another witness said they heard Poth say, “I’m gonna stab somebody. I’m gonna cut their lungs out.”

Poth’s defense attorney, David Benowitz, argued that Poth was acting in self defense and that Bushong initiated a fistfight, which led to the stabbing.

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