Eric Johnson, 21, was convicted of murder by a Texas jury in Sara Mutschlechner’s 2016 death, a Denton County District Attorney’s Office official tells PEOPLE.
Mutschlechner was shot by Johnson as she drove back with friends from a New Year’s party. The shooting occurred after a dispute with Johnson at a red light.
According to authorities, a vehicle Johnson was in stopped next to the vehicle Mutschlechner was driving. Johnson and his friends allegedly made sexually vulgar comments toward Mutschlechner and her friends.
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Mutschlechner, who was the designated driver for her group of friends, was shot in the head during the dispute and died later at the hospital.
During the trial, Johnson’s attorney, Bruce Isaacks, argued that although Johnson fired the gun, he did not mean to shoot Mutschlechner, the official says. Rather, Isaacks said Johnson only meant to fire warning shots to scare off the group. Isaacks said his client committed manslaughter, not murder.
Prosecutors rebutted the claim by showing that the bullets were fired downward.
In a previous interview, Cassidy Holechek, a close friend of Mutschlechner’s, described her as “just a very positive person.”
Mutschlechner and Cassidy met six years ago in band class, where they both played the drums. Cassidy was a freshman at the time, Mutschlechner a sophomore.
“I had joined marching band late in the season and she was there to make me feel welcomed. She was really nice to me,” Cassidy remembers. “I know that there’s been a lot of hurting because she really did touch the lives of so many people.”
Johnson was arrested for her killing in Arizona on Jan. 5. He was dismissed from the Marines Corps a day later.
Isaacks could not be reached for comment, and it is unclear if he plans to appeal.
Johnson is expected to be sentenced later this week.