A 32-year-old ex-Marine Corps officer and martial arts expert who fatally pummeled a Murrieta man sleeping with the serviceman’s girlfriend was sentenced Thursday to 18 years to life in state prison.
A Murrieta jury last month convicted Curtis Lee Krueger of second-degree murder and assault resulting in great bodily injury for the 2018 killing of 54-year-old Henry Stange, and Riverside County Superior Court Judge Kelly Hansen imposed the sentence required by law.
Krueger’s ex-girlfriend, 29-year-old Ashlie Nicole Stapp, pleaded guilty in July 2019 to being an accessory after the fact and was sentenced to 10 months in jail and three years felony probation.
According to Deputy District Attorney Dan DeLimon, Stange was a prescription drug-addicted divorce’ who developed a relationship with Stapp after the two began using drugs together. At the time she was visiting and engaged in sexual relations with the victim, she was also Krueger’s girlfriend, according to court papers.
The prosecution said Stange had been in a major car wreck that left him unable to work, resulting in financial hardships and dependence on painkillers, for which Stapp had a strong preference.
Krueger knew about the sex-for-drugs relationship and wanted it to end, but “Stapp wasn’t the committing type,” DeLimon wrote in court papers.
He described Krueger as “highly distrusting, totally obsessive, extremely controlling, with a violent temper.”
The Marine lieutenant, who taught martial arts, threatened Stange by text, warning him in January 2018 to stop seeing Stapp, and when the elder man disregarded the threat, Krueger “broke into Stange’s house and attacked him with a hammer,” the prosecutor said.
“Stange sustained injuries to his head, but he survived,” DeLimon said. “Stange never reported the attack to police.”
The relationship between the victim and Stapp continued, and according to DeLimon’s trial brief, Krueger finally boiled over and drove to the victim’s house in the 24000 block of New Clay Street on the afternoon of May 24, 2018.
The prosecutor said Krueger forced his way into the residence and “unleashed a violent attack that left Henry with several sharp force injuries to his chest and neck, along with numerous blunt force injuries that fractured and collapsed his skull.”
The victim died at the scene.
According to DeLimon, Krueger recruited Stapp to help him clean up the crime scene and dismantle the home security surveillance system.
They then loaded Stange’s remains into the defendant’s pickup truck and drove to Joshua Tree National Park, where Krueger “buried Stange’s mutilated body in a shallow grave less than 10 feet from the road,” the prosecutor wrote.
Stange’s remains were located on June 2, 2018. Sheriff’s detectives and U.S. National Park Service rangers began an investigation that led back to the victim’s residence, according to Murrieta police Lt. Mark Reid.
Within three months, Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents and Murrieta police detectives procured evidence, mainly from court-authorized wire taps, that supported findings indicating Krueger was the assailant, according to the prosecution.
He was arrested on Dec. 13, 2018, at Camp Pendleton, and Stapp was arrested later at her mother’s home in Canyon Lake.
Krueger, a 15-year Marine Corps veteran who started as an enlisted man, had been a communications officer for Combat Logistics Battalion 7 at Twentynine Palms, where he was stationed in June 2017.
His conviction formally ended his career in the service.
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