MURRIETA (CNS) – Jury selection resumed Thursday, Aug. 13 for the trial of a 32-year-old Marine lieutenant accused of fatally beating a man in Murrieta, possibly over their mutual interest in a young woman who lived in southwest Riverside County at several points in her life.
Curtis Lee Krueger could face 25 years to life in state prison if convicted of killing 54-year-old Henry Stange in 2018.
Krueger is charged with murder and assault resulting in great bodily injury. Jury selection for his trial got underway Tuesday at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta, but there was no hearing convened Wednesday, and Riverside County Superior Court Judge Kelly Hansen summoned several panels of prospective jurors back to the courthouse Thursday morning.
A jury is expected to be seated Monday, and opening statements may be held immediately afterward.
The defendant is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta.
Krueger’s ex-girlfriend, 29-year-old Ashlie Nicole Stapp, pleaded guilty in July 2019 to being an accessory after the fact and was sentenced to 10 months in jail and three years felony probation.
Stange’s remains were located on June 2, 2018, in a shallow grave on the Riverside County side of Joshua Tree National Park.
Sheriff’s detectives and U.S. National Park Service rangers began an investigation that led back to the victim’s residence in the 24000 block of New Clay Street, near Kalmia Street, where Murrieta police conducted a search four days later and found obvious signs that a crime had occurred, according to Murrieta police Lt. Mark Reid.
Investigators believe Krueger beat Stange in the victim’s garage, according to court documents. Stapp allegedly confessed to helping bury the body.
A Murrieta police arrest warrant affidavit stated that Stange “was dating” Stapp, even as she was “dating and living with her boyfriend, Curtis Krueger.”
Krueger’s first arrest on suspicion of murder was on Aug. 29, 2018, when San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies stopped his vehicle near the south entrance to the Marine Corps’ Twentynine Palms Air-Ground Combat Center.
Stapp was taken into custody at Copper Mountain Community College in Joshua
Tree that same day.
When prosecutors did not file charges against Krueger and Stapp within
48 hours, their window of opportunity closed based on a constitutional
guarantee that individuals are entitled to a speedy arraignment after being
jailed. Both were released.
On Dec. 7, 2018, Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents and
Murrieta police detectives “recovered additional evidence which corroborated
already established case factors,” according to Reid.
He said the corroborating evidence — the nature of which wasn’t disclosed — proved decisive in persuading the District Attorney’s Office to move forward, culminating in Krueger’s second arrest on Dec. 13, 2018, at Camp Pendleton. Stapp was arrested five months later in Canyon Lake.
Marine Lt. Adam Miller, a spokesman for the Twentynine Palms public affairs unit, told City News Service in 2018 that Krueger enlisted in April 2005, beginning his career as a private. He continued up through the non-commissioned ranks until he qualified for officer candidate school. He earned his lieutenant’s bars in 2015.
The defendant had been a communications officer for Combat Logistics Battalion 7, Combat Logistics Regiment 1 at Twentynine Palms, where he was stationed in June 2017, Miller said. Krueger is now on inactive status pending the outcome of his trial.
Neither he nor Stapp has documented prior felony convictions.