Marine veteran admits dousing wife in gasoline and lighting her on fire in front of their children


By Michael Swaney

A former US Marine pleaded guilty on Wednesday to killing his estranged wife in Australia on April 20, 2021.

Brian Early Johnston, 37, was accused of dousing his wife in gasoline and setting her on fire while she was tied up.

Johnston and his wife, Kelly Wilkinson, had been married for ten years but Wilkinson had obtained a restraining order against him.

Johnston, 34 at the time, was accused of violating a restraining order before he killed her in front of their three children who ranged in age from 2 to 9, according to an Australian news outlet.

Police said Johnston lit himself on fire after killing his wife but jumped into a pool to put out the flames.

Police found Wilkinson’s burned body in the backyard of the family’s home in the city of Arundel and found Johnston semiconscious with severe burns on his body two blocks away, according to the New York Post.

Neighbors found their children crying on the driveway of their home following the murder.

At the home, police found a plastic gasoline can, three knives, and a duffle bag that contained a rope and duct tape.

Johnston was arrested and booked for murder after he awoke from a coma at a hospital recovering from the burns to his hands and airway.

He appeared in Brisbane Supreme Court on Wednesday via video link to enter his guilty plea just a month before his trial was scheduled to take place.

He is expected to be sentenced on March 13th.

According to the Daily Mail, Johnston completed two deployments in Iraq with an aviation division but did not see combat. 

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