A military jury on Friday sentenced an Air Force staff sergeant to life in prison with the possibility of parole in the December 2013 strangling death of his American Forces Network coworker.
The panel of 10 officers and enlisted members two days earlier found Staff Sgt. Sean Oliver guilty of unpremeditated murder and related charges in the killing of Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dmitry Chepusov.
Oliver had been charged with the more serious crime of premeditated murder.
The airman was also convicted of assault consummated by a battery and obstruction in an unrelated incident stemming from an attack in Ohio in March 2012.
The jury was handed both cases following a two-week trial at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, during which Oliver testified he had not intended to kill Chepusov, Stars and Stripes reported.
Prosecutors have said Oliver was having an affair with Chepusov's wife at the time of the murder — and that Oliver's fear of the relationship being discovered by their chain of command drove him to commit the crime.
Three days before Chepusov died in an off-base apartment, Oliver allegedly met with Chepusov's wife and others at a Kaiserslautern restaurant, where they discussed Chepusov's life insurance policy. Chepusov's wife, Karla Alejandra Zolezzi, stood to receive $400,000 upon her husband's death.
Zolezzi testified during Oliver's court-marital that the conversation was in jest, Stars and Stripes reported.
On the night Chepusov died, the prosecution argued in opening statements, Oliver continued to strangle the victim long after he passed out, then kicked his lifeless body, according to the newspaper.
"That is premeditated murder," Stars and Stripes quoted prosecutor Maj. Jeremy Gehman as saying.
Oliver was arrested by German authorities during a traffic stop in Kaiserlautern, home to Ramstein, on Dec. 14, 2013. The victim was found unresponsive in the passenger seat and was pronounced dead soon after.
The airman is the second person convicted in connection with the death of Chepusov, an immigrant from Ukraine who became a U.S. citizen at age 18. Army Spc. Cody Kramer, a friend of the defendant, pleaded guilty in October to lying to investigators in exchange for his cooperation in the case against Oliver.
Kramer testified on behalf of the prosecution that the defendant admitted to killing Chepusov and asked for help cleaning up, Stars and Stripes reported.
In addition to life with the possibility of parole, Oliver was busted to the rank of E-1 and will be dishonorably discharged from the Air Force.