Marine Corps 1st Lt. Curtis Lee Krueger was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for murdering a man who was having sex with his girlfriend.
Krueger was a communications officer with Combat Logistics Battalion 7, based out of Twentynine Palms, California, when the body of 54-year-old Henry Stange was found half buried by the side of the road in Joshua Tree National Park on June 2, 2018, Marine Corps Times previously reported.
In September the Marine was convicted of assault causing great bodily injury and second-degree murder, Marine Corps Times reported.
Thursday he was sentenced to three years in prison for the assault charge and 15 years to life for the murder charge at a sentencing hearing in Riverside, California.
Judge Kelly Hansen ruled that the two charges will run consecutively, meaning that he will first serve his three year sentence for assault before he starts his sentence for murder.
“The life that you could have had is forever gone,” Hansen said to Krueger at Thursday’s sentencing hearing.
“You’ll have many, many years in state prison, I don’t know if you’ll ever get out,” he added.
An inside look into the strange case, possible love triangle of a Marine lieutenant charged with murder of man found in Joshua Tree National Park
Krueger was arrested a second time on Dec. 13, 2018, and held at the Cois M. Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta on $1 million bail.
Krueger was convicted of Stange’s May 24, 2018 murder, which was when he found out Stange was continuing his sex-for-drugs relationship with Ashlie Stapp, the Marine’s girlfriend whom he shared a trailer home with in Twentynine Palms, court records show.
May 24, 2018
On the morning of the murder, Stapp had texted Krueger that she was going to pick up suitcases from her mother’s house in Canyon Lake, California, according to the court records.
“'Suitcases,' ‘seriously?’ ‘if I find out you are doing drugs...,’” Krueger texted back to Stapp, the court documents said.
When Stapp stopped texting Krueger he started to track her phone, soon finding it at her mother’s house, according to the documents.
Krueger told officers in his chain of command that he was having family issues and requested permission to leave work early, the court documents reveal.
He was allowed to leave work and drove 100 miles to Canyon Lake, where he found the house empty except for his fiancé’s cellphone, according to the court documents.
After finding the phone Krueger immediately went to Stange’s house.
“Once inside the residence, Krueger unleashed a violent attack that left Henry with several sharp force injuries to his chest and neck, and numerous blunt force injuries that fractured and collapsed his skull and left him bleeding on the floor,” court documents said.
After Stange was dead, Krueger and Stapp started to clean up the scene. The two eventually bought a shovel at a nearby hardware store.
The two loaded Stange’s body in the back of Krueger’s truck and transported the body to Joshua Tree National Park and buried him in a shallow grave, the documents said.
“My actions have brought me great pain,” Krueger said at Thursday’s sentencing hearing.
Krueger claimed he killed Stange not in a jealous rage but in the hopes of “saving” Stapp from the man who fed her drugs and assaulted her.
“I foolishly took Henry for a rapist and a predator, but the man who died was a father,” Krueger added.
Stange was divorced with two kids.
The judge presiding over the hearing rejected that excuse from Krueger, noting that the jury got the conviction, “absolutely right.”
“Mr. Krueger intentionally took the life of another individual with malice aforethought in a brutal fashion,” Hansen said.
“It wasn’t because he was under the mistaken impression that his girlfriend was the victim of rape. It was because he was enraged that his girlfriend was intimately involved with another man,” he added.