FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) - A 22-year-old soldier from western Missouri has been sentenced to 50 years in prison for killing a man while he was on leave for his wife's funeral.
During the Friday sentencing phase of his court martial, Army Spec. Justin Cannon was sentenced to 50 years in prison with eligibility for parole for killing 24-year-old Michael Griggs of Raymore during a weekend camping trip.
Griggs' body was found floating in Truman Lake on Aug. 1, 2011. Police said Cannon, of Peculiar, thought Griggs had been having sex with the soldier's wife.
Cannon had been on his way to jump school at Fort Benning, Ga., on July 27, 2011, when he learned his 16-year-old wife Amber Cannon had died at a Grandview motel. An autopsy showed she overdosed on a prescription sedative.
An eight-member military panel on Thursday found Cannon guilty of murder without premeditation for killing Griggs. Under military law, Cannon could have been sentenced to up to life in prison. Cannon's sentence also included dishonorable discharge, demotion to the rank of private, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances. He can appeal.
Military prosecutors argued during the trial that Cannon struck Griggs in the head with a rock and pushed him into the lake where he drowned.
"I apologize for the loss of Michael," Cannon said before sentencing. "It was a tragic situation that should never have happened."
Griggs' mother, Lori Quick, said after the sentencing she was "very happy," with the outcome.
"I don't have a son any more. Michael was the life of our house. Our house is like a mausoleum now," she said.
Cannon's parents, Charles Cannon of Blue Springs and Sandra Cannon of Peculiar, sat behind their son during the sentencing. Earlier on the witness stand, Charles Cannon pleaded for leniency for his son, a Boy Scout who had become an Eagle Scout.