Marine's death not suicide, wife says - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Marine's death not suicide, wife says

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Marine Col. Michael Stahlman and his wife Kimberly Stahlman. (Source: Kimberly Stahlman) Marine Col. Michael Stahlman and his wife Kimberly Stahlman. (Source: Kimberly Stahlman)
EASLEY, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Its been almost five years since Marine Col. Michael Stahlman died after being shot while serving in Iraq, but questions still surround his death.

Stahlman is the highest ranking service member to loose his life during the United States' wars in the Middle East.

The Marine Corps and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service ruled Stahlman's death a suicide.

His wife, Kimberly Stahlman, said documents sent to her show that an NCIS investigation determine her husband died from a gun shot wound to the head and that he pulled the trigger.

Kimberly said her husband was a JAG officer, flew fighter planes and ran in triathalons. She said her husband was the most motivated man she ever knew and doesn't believe he took his own life.

"It was like everything, my past, my present and future was gone. I knew there was no way," said Kimberly Stahlman.

Kimberly Stahlman now lives in Easley and from there she has been conducting her own investigation into what happened to her husband. She said with the help of an independent investigator she has determined that her husband was murdered.

"I was right. The evidence does not support suicide. It only supports homicide," said Kimberly Stahlman.

One piece of evidence she said points to homicide is that while right-handed, her husband was shot on the left side of his head. Stahlman survived his injury for several months but was in a coma. He eventually succumbed to his injuries at Bethesda Medical Center in Maryland.

Like any Marine's wife, Kimberly Stahlman said she refused to retreat from her efforts to prove that her husband died an honorable death. She filed a lawsuit against the NCIS citing gross misconduct in their investigation.

The Navy recently moved to have the case dismissed, but that decision is still pending. FOX Carolina contacted the Marines and the NCIS for comment on Stahlman's death. Both denied commenting because of pending litigation.

Kimberly Stahlman's efforts also go far beyond finding her husband's killer. With the help of other families of service members who's deaths were ruled suicides under suspicious conditions, she is seeking to pass legislation giving more rights to fallen service members victims and more transparency and oversight to units like the NCIS that conduct military death investigations.

She helped found a website called militaryfamiliesforjustice.org where families can post testimonials and reach out to their legislators.

Kimberly Stahlman said while her efforts won't bring her husband back the least she can do is fight for a man who fought and died for his country.

"He put all that time in and they got him in the end and they spit on him, that's how I feel," she said.

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