North Carolina man gets prison time for accidentally killing fellow Marine

A man has been sentenced to prison for his roommate’s death when they were Marines stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

The sentence of 14-to-26 months was delivered Friday to Tyler Prudden, 30, who had pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the 2013 death of 22-year-old Lance Cpl. LaNija Gilpatrick, according to reports.

He admitted shooting Gilpatrick accidentally after he'd told investigators at first that Gilpatrick accidentally shot himself, the Jacksonville Daily News reported.

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Tyler Prudden, 30, left, and Marine Lance Cpl. LaNija Gilpatrick

Tyler Prudden, 30, left, and Marine Lance Cpl. LaNija Gilpatrick (Onslow County Sheriff's Office/U.S. Marine Corps)

“He hid the fact that he was the one who actually shot (Gilpatrick),” Prudden attorney Stuart Popkin told the paper. “It’s a difficult case in that there’s someone that died and your client is the one all the fingers are pointing at ... He decided to accept responsibility and not go through a trial.”

Two years after the shooting, Nancy Patterson showed the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office a Facebook message she received that led them to reopen the case, the paper reported.

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“Your son did not shoot himself. Tyler shot him,” the message said, according to the paper.

Patterson suspected it came from Prudden’s ex-wife who was a witness to the shooting but investigators have never said who sent it, WITN-TV reported.

Prosecutor Bob Roupe said Prudden later admitted pointing a gun he thought was unloaded and firing at Gilpatrick, the Daily News reported. The bullet struck Gilpatrick in the face.

By the time he was arrested, Prudden was no longer a Marine. Gilpatrick joined the Marines in 2010. Prudden was one of the pallbearers at his funeral.

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The Daily News quoted Patterson as saying after the sentencing that Prudden got off “really, really easy.”

“I had to bury my oldest child,” she said.

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