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Marine veteran admits responsibility in fatal shooting of university student

Eric Johnson faces a murder charge in the death of Sara Mutschlechner, a junior film major at University of North Texas.

The man accused of fatally shooting the UNT junior on New Year’s Day admitted to the shooting in an interview with investigators, police said Friday.

Police said Eric Jamal Johnson agreed to speak with investigators at the Yuma County Detention Center, where he is currently being held on a murder charge in the death of 20-year-old Sara Mutschlechner.

He has “admitted his responsibility in the shooting,” police said, and “did request that we express his sympathy to Sara’s family and her sorority sisters.”

Johnson, who was arrested Tuesday at a military base in Yuma, Ariz., was a corporal assigned to the aviation weapons and tactics squadron, but has since been “administratively separated from the Marine Corps.”

A spokesman for the Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command said Johnson was removed under “other than honorable conditions based upon the commission of a serious offense.”

Police said Mutschlechner was serving as her friends’ designated driver after a New Year’s Eve party when several men in a midsize SUV exchanged words with them in traffic near Texas Woman’s University, at one point yelling sexually explicit statements at them.

Police suspect that Johnson, who was driving the SUV, fired multiple shots at Mutschlechner’s car before speeding away. She was shot in the head, and her car struck another vehicle before crashing into a pole on North Elm Street near University Drive.

Police said they consider four men in the SUV with Johnson only witnesses to the crime who will not be charged.

On Thursday, Johnson waived extradition from Arizona to Texas. He was cleared for extradition Friday and police are working with the Denton County Sheriff’s Office to transport Johnson back to Denton, police said.

Officers have 10 days to complete the extradition process.

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©2016 The Dallas Morning News
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