Judge sentences Gaston County Marine in anti-government case

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A decorated Marine veteran will spend another year behind bars after accusations he was was preparing for a coup by the same military he once fought for.

Chief U.S. District Judge Frank Whitney sentenced Walter Litteral to 22 months in prison Tuesday. Including his time already served, it will amount to roughly one more year which will be spent in a federal prison.

"I take full responsibility and accountability," Litteral said Tuesday before receiving his sentence.

Christopher James Barker, 41, of Gastonia and Christopher Todd Campbell, 30, of Mount Holly were arrested along with Litteral last summer for conspiring to violate federal laws, governing firearms and explosive devices and related charges.

Court records showed a controversial military training exercise in Texas and other southwestern states may have been fueling their violent ideas.

The exercise is called Jade Helm, a two-month long special operations training exercise with members of U.S. Army Special Operations Command and service members from the military's four branches, according to the U.S. Army.

At his sentencing hearing Thursday, Litteral's attorney painted his client as a honorable servant. Litteral is a Marine who received a Bronze Star after leading two machine gun groups during the first Gulf War. However, he now suffers from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of his time in the military, his attorney said.

Litteral's attorney J.P. Davis successfully argued his client qualified for a lesser sentence because he served the military. Judge Whitney, a military man himself, said the military experience worked both ways.

"You truly are an American hero," Whitney said. "But just because you're an American hero doesn't mean you're excused from the laws of the land."

Litteral ultimately pleaded guilty to three of the six counts he faced. According to prosecutors, he admitted to purchasing a weapon with the intent of giving it to Barker and acting as a "straw man". Barker, a convicted felon, was unable to purchase the firearm himself.

Whitney said while guns are a hot topic right now in Washington D.C., there is little debate there are some Americans who should not have guns. He said he hopes the sentence Tuesday deters others from facilitating guns getting into the wrong hands.

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