A U.S. Marine Corps private was convicted of involuntary manslaughter Wednesday in the January fatal stabbing of a fellow Marine on a Southern California military base.
The defendant, Pfc. Raymond W. Begay, 20, had pleaded “not guilty” to attempted murder and obstruction of justice in connection with the case, but pleaded “guilty” to involuntary manslaughter, the Orange County Register reported.
Authorities said Begay fatally stabbed Pfc. Ethan Barclay-Weberpal, 18, on Jan. 16 while both were sitting in the bleachers at Camp Pendleton's School of Infantry. Begay began playing with a knife, and told the court that the death of Barclay-Weberpal, of Janesville, Wis., had been an accident.
“I reached around him and the knife sliced through his blouse and penetrated his skin,” Begay said. “(Barclay-Weberpal) died as a result of my terrible actions.”
Barclay-Weberpal suffered a puncture wound to his chest, the Register reported.
Begay said he had purchased the knife days before, but didn’t realize how sharp it was.
“In the moment, I was simply intending to poke him,” Begay said. “I was simply trying to annoy him as a friend. I wasn’t trying to cause harm.”
Begay testified that he and Barclay-Weberpal were “good friends” who met during training.
"Never in my wildest dreams did I think Ethan would die in the hands of one of his own. ... I can’t describe the depth of loss of a father and son bond. ... It was broken, so was my heart."
During the trial, the court also heard testimony from family members of Begay and Barclay-Weberpal.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think Ethan would die in the hands of one of his own,” said Scott Weberpal, father of Barclay-Weberpal. “I can’t describe the depth of loss of a father and son bond. … It was broken, so was my heart.”
Begay, a Native American who grew up on the Hoopa Reservation in California's Humboldt County, will serve seven years of confinement in a brig on base and will receive a “Bad Conduct Discharge” upon release.