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Seabee deployed to Okinawa accused of killing former sailor in California

By DAVID ALLEN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 16, 2006

CAMP SHIELDS, Okinawa — A Navy Seabee deployed here is a suspect in a California slaying.

Matthew Gerald Toerner, 19, a seaman apprentice, was taken into custody Monday afternoon, said Sheryl Kohatsu, a Commander, Fleet Activities Okinawa spokeswoman. He is being held in Camp Hansen’s Joint Force Brig pending transport under guard to California, where he is charged with taking part in the killing of a former sailor.

Toerner, who deployed to Okinawa on Dec. 3, is suspected of taking part in the Dec. 1 shooting of John Marmo, 27, a former Seabee, outside Marmo’s townhouse in Ventura County. According to news reports, Marmo was shot four or five times as he left his home at 5:58 a.m.

Toerner is the third Seabee held in connection with the murder. Last week, Ventura County police arrested Marmo’s ex-wife, Rebecca Braswell, 26, and her friend Shannon Butler, 23. Their ranks were not available.

Toerner, of Laguna Hills, Calif., joined the Navy last year and was assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 3, Kohatsu said.

“He was taken into custody Monday afternoon and is currently detained at the Hansen Brig,” Kohatsu said. “He has been questioned by the Ventura County Police detectives and will be sent back to the U.S. on or around the 17th of December.”

Capt. Ron Nelson, a Ventura County Sheriff’s Department spokesman, told reporters that witnesses saw Toerner at the scene of the shooting.

According to news reports, Butler and a fourth Seabee, Seth Hardy, also are suspects in two alleged attempts to kill Marmo with homemade bombs in October. Hardy, 20, also is in the custody of Ventura County authorities.

Toerner and the other Seabees were based at Naval Base Ventura County. Braswell is assigned to NMCB 40, Butler is with NMCB 4, and Hardy is with NMCB 3.

According to press accounts, Marmo and Braswell married in December 2001, while they were in the U.S. Navy serving at Naval Station Sigonella, Italy. They divorced in 2005 and were involved in a bitter child-custody battle over their 4-year-old daughter.


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