JOSHUA TREE — Brock Myers was sentenced to 18 years to life for the murder of a fellow Marine, Steven Kohus, on Friday.
Myers, then 22, was a Marine at the combat center in Twentynine Palms on March 2, 2014, when he shot 26-year-old Steve Kohus in the head in the 7300 block of Saladin Avenue in Twentynine Palms in what his defense attorney called a “freak accident.” The defendant, the victim and Kelby Todd were drinking all day until Kohus decided to leave with a group of other Marines.
Jordan MacGregor, a witness, testified that he saw Myers call from a distance to Kohus, who was already sitting in the truck behind the driver, asking for a lighter. When Kohus said “No,” Myers approached the vehicle and asked again.
Then Kohus said something along the lines of, “If you put that pistol in my mouth and pull the trigger I’ll give you this lighter,” MacGregor testified. Myers “took the pistol out of the holster and as he was pulling it out, he dropped the mag,” MacGregor said. Kohus stuck out his tongue. Myers then stuck the gun in Kohus’ mouth and pulled the trigger.
Myers was convicted in July, but before sentencing, his attorney, John-Paul Serrao, filed a motion asking Judge Rodney Cortez to hold a new trial or charge Myers with the lesser offense of involuntary manslaughter. Serrao argued that Myers showed no malice aforethought — the intent to harm or kill that is essential to a murder conviction.
Cortez denied both of the motions, saying, “The jury got it right.”
“I take my role as judge seriously and I intend to follow the law,” Cortez said as the sentencing hearing began Friday.
Members of the Kohus family were present in court to give victim impact statements.
“I live with this moment of recklessness every day,” the victim’s sister, Julie Kohus, said.
“I will never forgive him for what he did to me and my family,” she told the court. “A life for a life seems fair.”
Kohus told Cortez she wanted Myers to serve the maximum possible sentence. “I ask you to consider the life sentence that we had no say in,” she said.
Myers also gave a short statement during his hearing.
He told the court he extends his apologies to the Kohus family. Not a day goes by, he said, that he does not think about the incident and his best friend.
“I am sorry. Whatever your sentencing is, I accept it in full,” Myers said.
“My sentence is not going to repair the damage that has been done,” told the Kohus family.
Before the hearing ended, Cortez told Myers, “I have no doubt that if you could go back and change your actions on that day that you would.”