A Camp Pendleton Marine was sentenced by a military judge Thursday to life in prison for the beating death of his roommate, a Miramar spokesman told Patch. Last month, Darren Evans admitted to bludgeoning his roommate to death with a crowbar in November 2011 despite citing having no memory of the incident.
Evans was arrested Nov. 6, 2011 after falling—or jumping—off a three-story catwalk. His roommate, Lance Cpl. Mario Arias, was found dead shortly after midnight in a room they shared in the barracks.
Evans will have the possibility parole, but will be reduced from lance corporal to private. He will also forfeit all pay, will receive a dishonorable discharge from the Marine Corps, Lt. Tyler Balzer, a Miramar spokesman, told Patch.
During a January plea hearing, Evans told a military judge he had blacked out after drinking too much beer and vodka and couldn’t remember the crime. He relied, however, on overwhelming DNA evidence, witness testimony, toxicology reports and fingerprints authorities found on the crowbar.
“Based on that, I am convinced I did this,” he told a military judge Monday.
He pleaded guilty to an additional charge of assault, for punching a sergeant.
The judge accepted the Marine's guilty plea, a Miramar spokesman told Patch.
The two 19-year-old Marines were friends and Arias had confronted Evans on his excessive drinking. Evans opted to be tried by military judge alone and gave up the right to a jury.
Evans faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, reduction in rank to E-1, a dishonorable discharge and forfeiture of pay. His sentencing is set for mid-February.
A witness in an Article 32 hearing in March 2012 said the incident happened in “party barracks” where non-commissioned officers regularly allowed underage Marines to drink including Evans—a troubled Marine who had previously been placed on suicide watch.
After the testimony, Col. Shaun L. Sadler, commander of Marine Aircraft Group 39, which is responsible for the barracks, released a Nov. 28, 2011 memo that shows a response of increased leadership presence at the troubled barracks.