updated 3/24/2006 4:44:57 PM ET 2006-03-24T21:44:57

A former Navy seaman who killed a shipmate nearly 40 years ago after getting caught stealing from the ship’s safe was sentenced Friday to four years in prison.

Michael LeBrun, 60, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in September for killing 24-year-old Andrew Lee Muns in an office aboard a ship anchored in the Philippines.

“I take full responsibility for my actions,” LeBrun told U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple. “I’ve tried to live the last 37 years as a law-abiding citizen.”

The 1968 slaying aboard the USS Cacapon was long a mystery. Muns’ body was never found, and the Navy listed him as a deserter after $8,600 was discovered missing from a ship safe.

The case was reopened by the Navy in 1998 at the urging of Muns’ sister.

LeBrun said he killed Muns after Muns caught him stealing the money from the safe.

Prosecutors said that when Muns told LeBrun he would report the theft, LeBrun struck, choked and strangled him.

Muns’ sister, Mary Lou Taylor, called the sentence reasonable.

“I don’t think just because someone hasn’t done anything bad for 37 years we should just let them go,” she said.

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