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Marine to stand trial for allegedly killing Murrieta man

 

Last updated 6/28/2019 at 6:22pm

Murrieta Police Department

A judge on Thursday, June 27 found that Curtis Krueger, left, should stand trial for murdering 54-year-old Henry Stange of Murrieta. Krueger's girlfriend, 28-year-old Ashlie Nicole Stapp, right, pleaded guilty last week to being an accessory after the fact and was sentenced to 10 months in jail and three years felony probation.

MURRIETA - A Marine lieutenant accused of fatally beating a man in Murrieta, possibly over their mutual interest in a Joshua Tree woman, must stand trial for murder, a judge ruled on Thursday, June 27.

Following a preliminary hearing at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Kelly Hansen found there was sufficient evidence to warrant a trial for Curtis Krueger on the murder count, as well as assault resulting in great bodily injury, in the May 2018 death of 54-year-old Henry Stange.

Krueger's girlfriend, 28-year-old Ashlie Nicole Stapp, pleaded guilty last week to being an accessory after the fact and was sentenced to 10 months in jail and three years felony probation.

Stange's remains were located on June 2, 2018, in a shallow grave on the Riverside County side of Joshua Tree National Park.

Sheriff's detectives and U.S. National Park Service rangers began an investigation that led back to the victim's residence in the 24000 block of New Clay Street, near Kalmia Street, where Murrieta police conducted a search four days later and found obvious signs that a crime had occurred, according to Murrieta police Lt. Mark Reid.

Investigators believe Krueger, 31, of Twentynine Palms, beat Stange in the victim's garage, according to court filings. Stapp allegedly confessed to helping bury the body.

A December arrest warrant affidavit stated that Stange "was dating'' Stapp, even as she was "dating and living with her boyfriend, Curtis Krueger.''

Krueger's first arrest on suspicion of murder was last Aug. 29, when San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies stopped his vehicle near the south entrance to the Marine Corps' Twentynine Palms Air-Ground Combat Center. Stapp was taken into custody at Copper Mountain Community College in Joshua Tree that same day.

When prosecutors did not file charges against Krueger and Stapp within 48 hours, their window of opportunity closed based on a constitutional guarantee that suspects be entitled to a speedy arraignment after being jailed. Both were released.

On Dec. 7, Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents and Murrieta police detectives "recovered additional evidence which corroborated already established case factors,'' according to Reid.

He said the corroborating evidence -- the nature of which wasn't disclosed -- proved decisive in persuading the District Attorney's Office to move forward on the case, culminating in Krueger's second arrest on Dec. 13 at Camp Pendleton. Stapp was arrested five months later in Canyon Lake.

Marine Lt. Adam Miller, spokesman for the Twentynine Palms public affairs unit, told City News Service last August that Krueger enlisted in April 2005, beginning his career as a private. He continued up through the non-commissioned ranks until he qualified for officer candidate school. He earned his lieutenant's bars in 2015.

The defendant had been a communications officer for Combat Logistics Battalion 7, Combat Logistics Regiment 1 at Twentynine Palms, where he was stationed in June 2017, Miller said.

Neither Krueger nor Stapp has documented prior felony convictions.

Krueger is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta. Hansen scheduled a post-preliminary hearing arraignment for July 11.

 

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