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Ex-sailor pleads guilty in '68 Navy death

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A man accused of killing a Navy shipmate in the Philippines in 1968 pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of voluntary manslaughter yesterday.

The case against Michael E. LeBrun, 60, of Greenwood, Mo., developed after the slain man's sister pressed the Navy to reopen the case. Investigators concluded originally that the victim stole money from the ship and deserted.

LeBrun had been charged with first-degree murder, and his federal trial was scheduled to start Monday. He could have faced life in prison without parole if convicted on that charge, but his plea agreement calls for a sentence of up to 10 years.

Navy Ensign Andrew L. Muns, 24, disappeared in January 1968 while the USS Cacapon was anchored at Subic Bay in the Philippines. About $8,600 was discovered missing from the ship's disbursement office, and the Navy decided that Muns, the ship's payroll officer, must have taken the money and deserted.

Thirty years later, Muns's sister persuaded the Naval Criminal Investigation Service to take another look, and the new investigation led them to LeBrun in 2000.

LeBrun, who was a supply clerk on the ship, told investigators that he strangled Muns after the ensign caught him stealing money from a safe.

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