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Parents claim 'no justice' in dead Navy medic's military case

De Leon family photo
Posted at 4:16 PM, Jun 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-01 14:15:13-04

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (KGTV) - The parents of a military medic say that there's been no justice after their son was killed in what they claim was a botched coverup.

It was three years ago when ABC 10News first reported on JD and Sandra De Leon, a Houston couple whose son, HM3 Michael De Leon, was found dead at the Twentynine Palms Marine Corps base which is located northeast of San Diego. Since then, the parents say that they've been fed a series of lies about his death.

"It's been very difficult," JD told ABC 10News in a new interview.

The De Leons have been through countless court hearings. The latest hearing was in June when HM2 Edmond Maebane was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. He's one of five corpsmen who were accused in Michael's death. Maebane was sentenced to six years of confinement which is about half of the time that prosecutors said that they wanted.

"Six years, for a life? Every day, [I went] into the courtroom and saw Maebane's mom. [She was] getting to hug her son and kiss her son. For her, it's going to be very difficult but after six years, her son will be out. Ours will still be dead," Sandra told ABC 10News.

"You would think that this military code of justice would stand for something as opposed to, 'Let's charge them but go ahead and give them half of the sentence,'" added JD.

Maebane and four others were connected to the shooting death of De Leon during a house party which was partially captured in a Snapchat video. The corpsmen were reportedly drinking and dry-firing guns when a fatal round was fired. Prosecutors said that the corpsmen initially claimed that De Leon committed suicide.

De Leon's parents say that their son would not have taken his own life. After that, ABC 10News confirmed through sources that their son's death was being investigated as a homicide, in what the De Leon's have called a coverup.

"They don't want this to get out in public. Right now, I 'Googled' Edmond Maebane. The only story out there is coming from you. I [googled] Michael De Leon. The only stories are coming from you."

Last summer, HM1 Ryan Dini and HM2 Mason Williams were found guilty in part of dereliction of duty.

HM2 Sterling Wold and HM2 Jesse Humes were also charged but their cases are not public, according to a spokesperson with Camp Pendleton.

The military has confirmed that Wold's trial will be held in the coming weeks. The De Leons plan to attend, but they're continuing to lose hope.

"The punishment on bases is so lenient," said JD. Sandra added, "Nobody wins in this case. Yet another one is going to get a slap on the wrist, if that at all."

ABC 10News asked the military to respond to De Leon's accusations. A spokesperson told us "no comment."