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Fight led to sailor being stabbed at base

June 9, 2014 News Extra

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PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The moments leading up to Petty Officer Justin Powell of Butler County being stabbed repeatedly involved a “struggle” between him and his attacker, Wilbur Harwell, according to documents filed Monday in federal court.

In the court filing, a Navy investigator said that multiple people witnessed the fight and that one of them tried to break it up, but backed away after seeing Harwell with a knife.

At some point, several witnesses were able to separate the two sailors and that was when they noticed a lot of blood on Powell.

Powell, 25, of Buffalo Township made his was outside the barracks, where he collapsed.

Witnesses told the investigator that Powell nodded affirmatively when asked if Harwell had caused his injuries.

Another witness told investigators that Harwell had admitted to him during a phone call that he had stabbed Powell and feared that he might die, according to court papers.

The charges against Harwell, which were approved by a federal judge, are assault with intent to commit murder and assault with a dangerous weapon.

Powell, petty officer 2nd class, reportedly is at the medical center base to transition out of the Navy. He joined the Navy in 2007, after graduating from Freeport High School.

His parents, Michael and Pamela Powell, traveled to Virginia after learning of the stabbing.

Powell has a wife and 5-month old child.

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