The Marine accused of fatally stabbing a fellow Marine in a possible hate crime in the District's Southeast Barracks Row neighborhood April 21 rejected a plea offer this morning, meaning the case against him will move forward.
Michael Poth, 20, of Southeast D.C., who faces a charge of second-degree murder while armed, rejected a plea offer from the government under advisement from his lawyer, David Benowitz. Under the offer, Poth would have pleaded guilty to the charge of second-degree murder while armed and been sentenced to a term of no less than 12 years in prison, possibly longer depending on sentencing guidelines set forth by the presiding judge and agreed to by the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Appearing before Judge William Jackson in D.C. Superior Court this morning, Sept. 7, Poth, through his lawyer, David Benowitz, rejected the plea offer and was scheduled for an Oct. 19 Innocence Protection Act (IPA) hearing, where the defense could decide if they want to ask for DNA testing to prove whether or not there is forensic evidence implicating Poth.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia has previously stated it is not pursuing DNA testing in order to make its case against Poth. Poth remains held without bail as he awaits his scheduled trial, which is set to begin Feb. 19, 2013.
According to charging documents, Poth allegedly crossed paths with 23-year-old Philip Bushong of Camp Lejune, N.C., and a male companion in the 700 block of 8th Street SE as the two were leaving a local bar. The men exchanged words, with Poth threatening to stab Bushong and calling him a ''faggot'' before stabbing him.
Marines who saw Bushong stabbed and detained Poth told police they observed a bloody knife clipped to Poth's pants pocket. Poth later tested positive for artificial marijuana, also known as ''spice.''
Video footage from surveillance cameras around the Barracks Row area, shown at a May 16 preliminary hearing, showed Poth walking in the area, acting erratically and brandishing an object believed to be a knife. The footage also showed Bushong, who was straight, embracing his companion, who is gay, at an earlier time when Poth was passing by.