The murder trial against Michael Poth began Thursday with eyewitness testimony and video footage that place Poth in a deadly encounter with 23-year-old Philip Bushong, who was killed across the street from a Marine Barracks the two both lived in.
Poth, 21, a former Marine, is charged with second-degree murder while armed in connection with the 2012 fatal stabbing death of Bushong, a fellow Marine.
Police found Bushong April 21, 2012 around 2:40 a.m. on the 700 block of 8th Street Southeast suffering from an apparent stab wound; he would later die. Poth was arrested that same day and charged in connection with Bushong’s death.
At trial Thursday, Cpl. Chris Johnson told jurors that moments before the murder, Poth and Bushong had fought verbally in front of “Molly Malone’s,” a restaurant and bar located across the street from the Marine Barracks. Johnson testified that he was guarding the barracks, and was less than 60 feet away from Poth and Bushong, as the two began to argue.
Johnson said Poth initially walked away from the fight, flashing a pocket knife in the air before leaving. He walked down the block and talked to Marines who appeared to have calmed him down. Poth then circled around the block and came back to the front patio of Molly Malone’s, Johnson said.
Prosecutors played video footage from the restaurant that showed Poth kicking a restaurant sign as he walked past Bushong and his friend, who both then proceeded to follow Poth outside of the camera’s view.
According to Johnson, Bushong ran up to Poth from behind and grabbed his shoulder, with his other hand cocked back to punch Poth. But before Bushong could throw a punch, Poth stabbed him, Johnson said.
“I heard [Poth] say, ‘I’m going to stab you,’ and then he turned around and stabbed him,” Johnson said Thursday.
Johnson then ran across the street to help Bushong. Poth fled on foot, tripping once over a flower pot on the sidewalk, Johnson said.
Surveillance footage from the Marine Barracks shown in court showed Poth moments later running into an alley next to the barracks. He was detained in that alley by other Marines.
The trial is scheduled to resume Monday with Judge Russell Canan.