Marine Pleads Guilty In Death Of Fellow Marine

A Cherry Point Marine has pleaded guilty in connection with the death of another Marine.

Lionel Loya pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter for the death of Jonathan Rodriguez. He was sentenced to serve between 13 and 16 months in prison.

Judge Ken Crow said it would not be fair to give Loya the maximum sentence given the lack of a prior record. Crow says he decided against probation for the Marine because of Loya's reckless behavior.

Back in December Havelock police said Loya showed a weapon during a friendly discussion over a sports event. They say Rodriguez was killed in the ensuing gunfire.

Rodriguez's Texas family traveled to Eastern Carolina late last week to express their concern over the possible jail time Loya might receive and how the police investigation into the death was handled.

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The family of a Marine killed by another is in eastern Carolina because they're not satisfied with the police investigation and want to make sure justice is served.

On Tuesday, Lionel Loya heads to court---he's accused of shooting and killing fellow Cherry Point Marine Jonathan Rodriguez back in December. Authorities say it was accidental, but the victim's family doesn't believe that.

In an extremely emotional conversation, Rodriguez's family told us they believe all evidence isn't being looked at. Authorities tell us on December 6th, Rodriguez was watching a sports game at the Havelock home of Loya. Officials say Loya broke out a gun, the two got into a fight and the firearm accidentally discharged. But Rodriguez's family isn't so sure and is heartbroken about the situation.

Rosie Espinoza, Rodriguez's Aunt, says "D.A.'s office says this was an accident. We're still crying our tears. Loya's still walking, breathing. Our way of talking to John, calling his cell phone and listening to his voice mail."

Carteret County district attorney Scott Thomas says there's no piece of evidence that shows Loya intentionally shot Rodriguez.

Loya is charged with involuntary manslaughter. According to Thomas-- Loya's attorneys have indicated he will plead guilty to that charge next week in court.

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