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Verdict reached in SoCal Navy medic death probe case

Michael Vincent De Leon
Posted at 4:17 PM, Jun 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-24 12:16:40-04

TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. (KGTV) - The Marines have confirmed that a military trial last week for a 23-year-old Navy corpsman resulted in only a partial conviction, after he was accused in connection to the death of a fellow corpsman.

A Navy corpsman is a type of medic.

Michael Vincent De Leon, 30, died in a shooting on the Twentynine Palms base, located northeast of San Diego.

"This was difficult and very emotional," said "JD" De Leon, Michael's father. ABC 10News spoke to him and his wife, Sandra. Both parents were in the courtroom when Mason Williams was found guilty of dereliction of duty and disorderly conduct. He was found not guilty of reckless endangerment and violation of lawful general order.

As punishment, his rank will drop from E-4 to E-1, resulting in a pay reduction. The De Leons wanted him to be discharged and said that a rank reduction is insufficient.

Williams is one of five corpsmen who've been connected to the death.

The De Leons said that their son captured Snapchat video before he was shot during a going-away party with fellow corpsmen at one of the houses on-base. The prosecution has said that the corpsmen were drinking and dry-firing guns before a fatal round was fired.

The De Leons alleged a cover-up after ABC 10News confirmed through sources with close military ties that their son's death was being investigated as a homicide, not a suicide like they said that they were first led to believe.

The De Leon's told ABC 10News that Williams has apologized, but it's not enough. "[He apologized] without accepting [that] what he did was wrong...our son is gone," they added.

Aside from Williams, three other corpsmen have been charged. A fourth corpsman is facing charges, but his hearing was continued, and a date has not been set.