Charges revised in Marine's shooting death

BEAUFORT -- Charges against the Beaufort Marine accused of accidentally shooting a fellow Marine in the head Saturday have changed in the wake of the victim's death Monday, the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office said.

Initially charged with assault with intent to kill, Lance Cpl. Patrick King now will face an involuntarily manslaughter charge after Cpl. Tony Martinez-Ramirez died in a Charleston hospital Monday night, the Solicitor's Office announced Wednesday.

Martinez-Ramirez, 21, was shot in the head with a gun King believed to be unloaded while at a party in Polk Village on Saturday, according to the Sheriff's Office.

The two men were members of Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 31 at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, and were described by witnesses as friends. The air station declined to release any information on Martinez-Ramirez.

King, who remained in the Beaufort County Detention Center on Wednesday on a $50,000 bond, faces up to five years in prison if convicted of involuntary manslaughter, according to state law. If convicted of assault with intent to kill, King would have faced a maximum of 20 years in jail.

Prosecutors must prove King demonstrated criminal negligence, defined by the state as "a reckless disregard of the safety of others," when he reportedly aimed the handgun at the victim and pulled the trigger.

The Sheriff's Office would not release information on how many bullets were in the gun when King fired saying only that two magazines were found at the scene.

The investigation remains open as officials continue to work with the Marine Corps and Naval Criminal Investigative Services.