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Marine Corps Drops Charges Against Marine Who Acted in ‘Self- Defense’

March 15, 1994 GMT

QUANTICO, Va. (AP) _ The Marine Corps dropped murder charges against a lance corporal who fatally shot her spurned lover, a fellow Marine who broke into her apartment with a bayonet.

Lance Cpl. Rayna Ross was defending herself when she shot Cpl. Anthony Goree twice, including once in the back, Gen. M.R. Steele said in a ruling released Monday.

In dropping the charges, Steele, commanding general of the Quantico Marine Corps Base, endorsed the findings of a military judge.

″My heart felt like it dropped to my stomach because I’ve been waiting for this for so long,″ said Ms. Ross, who will be honorably discharged in two weeks. ″I’m happy that I can finally go home and be a mother to my daughter.″

At a hearing last month, witnesses testified that Goree had threatened and assaulted Ms. Ross before breaking into her apartment June 29.

Ms. Ross, 22, testified she began dating the 26-year-old Goree last spring and the relationship soured in June.

″He had gotten jealous, and he started acting strange,″ she testified.

Maj. Michael G. Keegan, the military judge, ruled that while Ms. Ross fired in self-defense, she was partially responsible because she didn’t pursue charges after earlier threats from Goree.

In his brief, Keegan also chastised noncommissioned officers for not telling superiors about the abusive relationship.

According to testimony, Goree was jailed June 15 for allegedly threatening Ms. Ross, including once with a weapon in her base office. He was released a week later after Ms. Ross changed her story at the insistence of Goree’s friends.

″Her failure to do the right thing and tell the truth played a significant role in this tragedy,″ Keegan wrote in his brief.

Although ordered to remain on the base, Goree disappeared. Ms. Ross, afraid Goree would come looking for her, began staying at friends’ homes. She also bought a .38-caliber semiautomatic pistol and returned to her apartment with her 2-year-old daughter.

Goree broke into her bedroom in the early morning, Ms. Ross, police and neighbors testified. Ms. Ross’ first shot hit Goree in the shoulder. Her second, moments later, hit him in the back.

Goree wore a heavy flight suit and hat and carried a bayonet, said Detective Richard A. Cantorella of the Prince William County Police Department.

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″I didn’t have any other choice. I had to protect myself and my daughter,″ Ms. Ross said at the hearing.

County authorities ruled the case justifiable homicide and didn’t prosecute. But Ms. Ross was charged with first-degree murder in December after an investigation by the Naval Investigative Service uncovered inconsistencies in witnesses’ accounts.