No charges filed in death of Camp Lejeune Marine in Wilmington
After a night of heavy drinking, a Camp Lejeune Marine in Wilmington for the Marine Corps Ball went to several bars, before being shot to death in downtown Wilmington.
Those are some of the details District Attorney Ben David announced Thursday afternoon during a news conference when he explained why the man who pulled the trigger, Stephen Hughes, will not face charges.
It was a series of unfortunate events that led to the death of Cpl. Edwin Estrada, 27. He had a dead cell phone, was heavily intoxicated, and then, ultimately knocked on the wrong door on North Front Street in the early morning hours of November 19.
“If this young man knocked on any other door in Wilmington he’d have still been alive, but he knocked on Mr. Hughes door,” David said during the news conference.
Stephen Hughes is a former law enforcement officer from Maine. He also served in the Navy for 11 years and was honorably discharged.
“A man who honorably served our country is dead,” David said. “Another man who served our country has to live with the fact he took another serviceman’s life.”
Hughes will not be charged because of North Carolina’s Defense of Habitation Law.
According to the district attorney, this is how the shooting unfolded. On the morning he shot Estrada, Hughes said he was inside his residence working on his fish tank when he heard a loud banging sound on the door of the rear entrance of the building.
He told police it sounded like someone was trying to kick in the back door.
When Hughes opened the door, Estrada tried to enter his home. Hughes grabbed his pistol from a shelf by the door and pointed it at Estrada. Hughes asked Estrada if he was “out of his f****** mind” and told Estrada to “get down.”
Estrada then said “no you get down.”
After Hughes told Estrada to “get the f*** out of here,” and to “leave”, Estrada smiled and said, “This is pure comedy, I’m going to get you.”
Estrada then lunged at Hughes and Hughes fired two shots. The first bullet entered Estrada’s cheek and went out the back of his neck. The medical examiner determined that shot was non-fatal and would not have been debilitating. The second shot entered the back of Estrada’s neck and up into his head.
After the shooting, Hughes checked outside to see if there were others with Estrada. Hughes also determined Estrada was dead, then he called 911 to report the shooting.