Marine veteran faces murder trial

A former Marine and Iraqi War veteran goes before a jury this month, accused of second-degree murder in a fatal alcohol-related crash in 2011 in which the other driver died.

If convicted, Eric Jonathan Cox of Charlotte faces up to 30 years in prison.

Prosecutors say the 34-year-old, who has a prior DWI conviction, drank and then got behind the wheel on Nov. 28, 2011. Early that morning, authorities say Cox ran a red light while speeding at East Sugar Creek Road and The Plaza, slamming his Chevrolet Tahoe broadside into a Nissan driven by H’Luon Siu, 26, who died in the crash. Siu’s 4-year-old son was critically injured but survived. Cox was unhurt.

Jury selection could begin as early as Friday. Mecklenburg Superior Court Judge Yvonne Evans has agreed to allow cameras in the courtroom for the trial.

Cox, according to one of his websites, enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1999 after graduating from Asheboro High School. He says he was sent to fight in Iraq in 2003.

He wrote a book, “Cpl Cox,” about his combat experiences and says on his website that he has overcome struggles with combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder to become an author, a successful real estate company owner and the head of a nonprofit for military veterans.

In 2004, Cox was charged with felony possession of cocaine, which was reduced to a conviction for possession of drug paraphernalia, public records indicate.

Other charges and convictions on his record range from assaulting/threatening government officials to a bail bond violation.

In 2010, Cox was convicted of driving while impaired, and a judge ordered him to keep his blood-alcohol level at or below 0.04 – half the usual legal limit.

After the November 2011 crash, Cox was charged second-degree murder, felony serious injury by motor vehicle, DWI and failure to comply with license restrictions.

Prosecutors originally asked for a $2 million bond, but the amount was reduced at the request of Cox’s family, and he was freed on $350,000 bond.

His attorney, Bill Powers of Charlotte, could not be reached for comment Thursday. Researcher Maria David contributed.