Ex-Marine pleads guilty to burning estranged wife to death before young kids’ eyes

Ex-Marine pleads guilty to burning estranged wife to death before young kids’ eyes

A former US Marine pleaded guilty Wednesday to killing his estranged wife in Australia by dousing her with gasoline and setting her on fire while she was tied up in front of their young children.

Brian Early Johnston, 37, stood in court and copped to a count of murder just weeks before he was scheduled to go on trial in Brisbane for Kelly Wilkinson’s 2021 burning death, reported 9News.

The mom-of-three’s scorched body was found in the backyard of the family Gold Coast home on the morning of April 20, 2021.

Johnston, then 34, was accused of violating a restraining order and setting his wife of 10 years ablaze as their three kids, who ranged in age from 2 to 9, looked on in horror.

In the process, Johnston also lit himself on fire and jumped into a pool to put out the flames, police said.

Officers who responded to the scene in the city of Arundel found a semiconscious Johnston with severe burns on his body two blocks away from his home.

Kelly Wilkinson, left. and her husband, Brian Early Johnston, right

Brian Early Johnston, 37, right, an ex-US Marine, has pleaded guilty to murdering his wife, Kelly Wilkinson, left. Family Handout

Kelly Wilkinson

Wilkinson, a 27-year-old mom-of-three, was burned to death at her home in Australia in April 2021. Family Handout

Cops recovered a plastic gasoline can, three knives and a duffle bag containing a rope and duct tape.

Johnston was hospitalized with burns to his hands and airway, and remained in a coma for days before he was booked on a charge of murder.

Wilkinson’s family members were present Wednesday to witness Johnston’s arraignment in Brisbane Supreme Court via a video link from jail.

Brian Johnston pictured in an Australian flag apron

Police said Johnston tied up his estranged wife and doused her with gasoline before setting her on fire. Family Handout

Wilkinson and Johnston seen with a child

Wilkinson, left, died from her injuries sustained during the horrific attack. Family Handout

Johnston did not respond when asked if he wanted to say anything as to why sentence should not be passed upon him.

The 37-year-old has been remanded to custody pending his sentencing hearing set for March 13.

Johnston and Wilkinson’s children have been taken in by an aunt.


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