Michael Poth, the Marine accused of killing a fellow Marine following an incident where he allegedly called the victim a ''faggot'' after having earlier seen the victim embrace another man, was arraigned on a charge of second-degree murder while armed in D.C. Superior Court this morning.
Poth remains held without bail as he awaits trial, accused of stabbing 23-year-old Philip Bushong, of Camp Lejune, N.C., in the early morning hours of April 21 following a confrontation between the two in the 700 block of 8th Street SE, a stretch known as Barracks Row for housing the Marines Barracks.
Through his attorney, David Benowitz, Poth waived a formal reading of the indictment and pleaded not guilty to the charge against him. Benowitz, speaking on behalf of Poth, asserted Poth's right to a jury trial.
Judge William Jackson scheduled a Sept. 7 status hearing for Poth and a Feb. 19, 2013, jury trial.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Liebman, speaking for the prosecution, offered a plea deal to the defense, which will remain open until Poth's next court date.
According to charging documents, witnesses, including several Marines on duty, told police they saw Poth cross paths with Bushong and a male companion on 8th Street SE as the two were leaving a local restaurant and bar; followed by the men exchanging words, with Poth threatening to stab Bushong, Bushong grabbing Poth's shoulder, and Poth stabbing Bushong.
Marines who saw Bushong fall to the ground detained Poth and told police they observed a bloody knife clipped to Poth's pants pocket.
According to a female witness interviewed by police, she had seen a young white male with short blond hair, blue jeans and tattoos on his arm, which matches Poth's description, walking around the area prior to the stabbing. According to the witness, the man said, ''I'm going to stab somebody or cut their lungs out; they are fucking with the wrong person.''
A Metropolitan Police Department officer who responded to the scene told investigators Poth was uttering statements without prompting, such as, ''Call me boots and the fight started,'' ''Marines control me and my brain,'' ''You start with me and I'm going to defend myself,'' ''He was talking shit, so I stabbed him,'' and, ''He punched me in the face, so I stabbed him.'' After overhearing a radio transmission about Bushong being transported to Washington MedStar Hospital, Poth allegedly told the responding officer, ''Good, I hope he dies.''
Poth later tested positive for artificial marijuana, aka ''spice.''
Video footage from surveillance cameras around the Barracks Row area, shown at a May 16 preliminary hearing, showed Poth walking around the area, acting erratically and, at one point, brandishing an object believed to be a knife. The video footage also showed Bushong and his companion embracing at an earlier time when Poth was passing by the restaurant.