The trial of a Michael Poth, a now-former Marine accused of stabbing a fellow Marine during an altercation in D.C.’s Barracks Row neighborhood in April has been postponed due to complications relating to the health of Poth’s attorney and the availability of potential witnesses.
D.C. Superior Court Judge Russell Canan this morning, Feb. 27, rescheduled the trial to April 8, almost a year since the incident, in which Poth, of Southeast D.C., allegedly stabbed fellow Marine Philip Bushong, of Camp Lejune, N.C. Witnesses told police that immediately prior to the stabbing Poth used homophobic slurs against Bushong, who was straight, and Bushong’s gay companion. Poth has been charged with one count of second-degree murder.
As Metro Weekly previously reported, Poth’s defense attorney, David Benowitz, told Canan last week that he would not be able to meet the initial trail start date of March 4 due to medical issues following surgery on his hand.
Benowitz also told Canan that an expert witness that Benowitz hopes will be able to argue that Poth’s military training led him react reflexively to what he perceived as a dangerous situation.
After Benowitz asked for the continuance last week, Canan scheduled today’s hearing to gauge how Benowitz was feeling and whether he could move forward.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Liebman also raised issues of readiness. While Liebman was prepared to go to trial in March, he planned to call 15 to 20 witnesses, including six Marines who interacted with Poth on the night of the stabbing. Last week, Liebman said he was unsure whether a delay in trial would affect the availability of those Marines, none of whom are still stationed at the Southeast D.C. Marine Barracks, and one, considered a ”crucial witness,” facing possible overseas deployment in the near future.
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