In a case that saw a youthful party culture unfold before a panel of Army officers, a court-martial jury on Thursday found a soldier guilty of killing a man during a weekend camp out at Truman Lake.
Sentencing for Justin Cannon, 22, of Peculiar, will take place at 8 a.m. Friday at Fort Leavenworth.
The jury of eight officers deliberated three hours before finding Cannon guilty of murdering Michael Griggs, 24, whose body was found floating in the lake on Aug. 1, 2011.
Military prosecutors accused Cannon of sneaking up behind Griggs in the dark, bashing his head with a rock, knocking him unconscious and then pushing him into the water, where he drowned.
Cannon, in uniform, displayed no reaction to the verdict. Outside the courtroom, Lori Quick, Griggs’ mother, said she and her family were “thrilled at the verdict.”
Cannon, an Army specialist who had deployed to Afghanistan, had returned home from Fort Benning, Ga., because his wife had been found dead in a Grandview motel. An autopsy later showed she overdosed on Xanax.
The funeral for Amber Cannon, 16, took place the same day a conservation agent looking for traps in the lake found Griggs’ body.
Authorities say Cannon thought Griggs had been having sex with Cannon’s wife while he was away with the Army.
Cannon was charged with premeditated murder, but the jury opted for the lesser option of murder without premeditation. Under military law, however, he could still be sentenced to life without parole.
The defense argued that Griggs died of injuries from an epileptic seizure and that a confession had been coerced because of Cannon’s grief over his wife.
Cannon and Griggs were part of a group that went camping that weekend. The seven young adults took no food, tents or any camping equipment. But they did take liquor, and witnesses testified of heavy drinking.