A Barracks Washington Marine was sentenced in June to five years in the brig for the fatal shooting of a fellow Marine.
At approximately 5 a.m. on New Year’s Day 2019, Lance Cpl. Riley S. Kuznia was standing duty aboard the Marine Corps Barracks in Washington, D.C., when he was shot by Lance Cpl. Andrew Johnson.
Johnson said he thought the pistol was unloaded when he pointed it at Kuznia’s head and pulled the trigger, Marine Corps Times previously reported. But the Marine ignored proper procedure and failed to successfully clear the pistol.
After he shot his friend, Johnson became distraught and called out Kuznia’s name, lawyers for both the defense and prosecution claimed an August 2019 hearing.
Markelle Kuznia, Lance Cpl. Riley S. Kuznia’s mother, said those explanations sounded like excuses when she heard them at the June 5 trial where Johnson’s sentence was determined.
“He used words like peer pressure, laziness, lack of respect for authority and not following procedures,” she said in a June 12 Facebook post. “True apologies are when you man up and take full responsibility for your actions. Unfortunately, this never happened.”
Markelle Kuznia has not yet responded to interview requests by Marine Corps Times.
A military judge found Johnson guilty of four counts of Article 92, willful dereliction of duty, and on count of Article 119, involuntary manslaughter, in accordance with a previously agreed upon plea agreement, a Marine Corps spokeswoman told Marine Corps Times in a Thursday email.
Johnson was sentenced to five years in prison, reduction to E-1 and a dishonorable discharge, Capt. Allison Burgos said in the email.
In her Facebook post, Markelle Kuznia said the short sentence and the plea agreement was, “heartbreaking to say the least.”
“We at no point in time wanted a plea bargain, it was our wish for Andrew Johnson to stand trial for his crimes,” she wrote.
“Riley would have given his life in the blink of an eye to save any one of his brothers in arms including Andrew Johnson,” Markelle Kuznia added.
The Marine Barracks Washington command did not have any further comment at the time of publishing, according to Marine Corps spokeswoman Capt. Katie Kochert.