“The defendant threatened Mr. Bushong minutes before the incident and evidence showed he went back to provoke him,” Judge Russell Canan said before delivering the sentence.
Poth was convicted of voluntary manslaughter while armed in December 2013.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Liebman noted at sentencing that Michael Poth threatened Bushong minutes before the stabbing.
“Ten minutes before, while at a bar, Poth raises his knife in the air and yells at him, ‘I’m going to cut your mother f-ing lungs out,’” Liebman said. After the incident, Poth showed a lack of remorse by saying, “Good, I hope he dies,” Liebman said.
On April 21, 2012, Bushong, 23, was found around 2:40 a.m. on the 700 block of 8th Street Southeast, near Barracks Row, with a stab wound to the chest. He later died from his injuries.
In a tearful impact statement, Philip’s fiancee Margo Blau said that Bushong was an extremely loyal and funny person and that she lost her best friend.
“He was devoted to his country and ridiculously funny,” Blau said. “I lost my best friend and the love of my life.”
Defense Attorney Bernard Grimm said in a case like this, there are no winners. Punishment is a factor, he said, but the court has a “chunk” of Poth’s life in its hands, and he asked the court to not give him a harsh sentence.
Michael’s mother, Robin Poth, was allowed to address the court. “My son made it his mission to stick up for the little guy,” she said.
“I know how badly Michael felt because I heard it myself,” Robin Poth said. “My son’s life still has meaning. His life still has purpose.”
Finally, addressing the court, Poth said he thinks about the Bushong family and their loss.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t think about the Bushong family,” Poth said. “I didn’t plan this.”
Unable to remain silent, the Poth family burst into sobs and shouted encouraging words to the former marine as he was escorted away.
A press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office is below.
District Man Sentenced to More Than 11 Years in Prison For Fatally Stabbing Fellow Marine
-Attack Took Place in April 2012 in Southwest Washington-
WASHINGTON – Michael Poth, 22, of Washington, D.C., was sentenced today to 11 years and three months in prison after earlier being found guilty of manslaughter while armed in the fatal stabbing of a fellow U.S. Marine Corps enlistee, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.
Poth was found guilty by a jury in December 2013, following a trial in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. He was sentenced by the Honorable Russell F. Canan. Upon completion of his prison term, Poth will be placed on five years of supervised release.
According to the government’s evidence, Poth and the victim, Philip Bushong, 24, were active duty U.S. Marine Corps enlistees. At the time of the incident, the defendant was a private first class and was assigned to the Marine Barracks Washington, while the victim, a lance corporal, was a few days away from receiving an honorable discharge and was in the District of Columbia visiting friends. The men did not know one another. In the early morning hours of April 21, 2012, both were in the area near the 700 block of Eighth Street SE, near the Marine Barracks. Multiple bars and restaurants are in the area.
Poth walked by Lance Cpl. Bushong, who was with a group of friends. Shortly after he passed by the group, Lance Cpl. Bushong yelled something at the defendant. Poth took offense, took out a small pocket knife from his pocket, and waved it in the air toward Lance Cpl. Bushong and his group of friends. Poth also muttered out loud that he was going to “cut someone’s (expletive) lungs out.”
About 10 minutes later, Poth, after circling the block, aggressively walked toward Lance Cpl. Bushong, who was still in the area talking to a friend. Poth walked up to Lance Cpl. Bushong, uttered an anti-gay slur, and then kept walking. Lance Cpl. Bushong proceeded to follow Poth, and the two began to argue. As Lance Cpl. Bushong drew back his fist to punch Poth, Poth stated, “I’m going to stab you.” He then drew his knife and stabbed Lance Cpl. Bushong once in chest. Lance Cpl. Bushong died about two hours later.
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Machen commended the work of those who investigated the case from the Metropolitan Police Department and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and thanked the U.S. Marine Corps for their cooperation. He also expressed appreciation for the work of the District of Columbia Department of Forensic Sciences and the District of Columbia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. In addition, he acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialists Sandra Lane and Alesha Matthews; Victim/Witness Advocate Tamara Ince; David Foster, Katina Adams-Washington, and La June Thames, all of the Victim Witness Assistance Unit, and Litigation Technology Specialists Will Henderson and Paul Howell. Finally, he praised Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Liebman, who prosecuted the case.