Bragg begins hearing in Tikrit officer murder case
August 22, 2008
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (Army News Service, Aug. 22, 2008) - An Article 39a hearing began Thursday morning in the case of the United States vs. Staff Sgt. Alberto Martinez, who is charged with murdering two officers at Forward Operating Base Danger near Tikrit, Iraq, on June 7, 2005.
Following the incident, Capt. Phillip T. Esposito and 1st Lt. Louis E. Allen of the 42nd Infantry Division were transported to a medical facility at Forward Operating Base Speicher. Both officers died of their wounds at FOB Speicher the following day.
Martinez is charged with violating three articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which include:
Charge I: Violation of Article 118 with two specifications of premeditated murder.
Charge II: Violation of Article 92 (Failure to obey an order or regulation). Three specifications of violation of 42d Infantry Division General Order #1; wrongful possession of a privately owned firearm, wrongful possession of unexploded ordnance, and wrongful possession of alcohol.
Charge III: Violation of Article 108 (Military property of the United States) -- sale, loss, damage, destruction, or wrongful disposition of government property by giving printers and copiers to an Iraqi national.
The military judge, Col. Stephen Henley, heard and ruled on several motions argued at Thursday's hearing at Fort Bragg.
The hearing began with Henley ruling not in favor of the unlawful command influence and prosecutorial misconduct motion, as he did not find there to be command influence or prosecutorial misconduct.
Henley denied the defense's request to dismiss the charges against Martinez and denied the defense's request to set aside the capital referral. Henley informed the prosecution team members of procedures to follow when interviewing defense witnesses. These include advising witnesses of their rights, not offering their opinion or belief that Martinez is guilty, not telling them if they think they are lying or being untruthful, and not showing/displaying or discussing evidence with witnesses.
Henley did not rule on the pretrial punishment and confinement credit motion as he explained it was not the appropriate time. However, Henley said he would reconsider this motion during sentencing if Martinez is proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Henley did not rule on the discovery of expert testing and Brady evidence or the funding of the court-ordered experts motions.
The military judge denied the motion for depositions of agents of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
The appointment of defense fire investigator was denied, and Henley precluded the prosecution from offering evidence involving a 2002 house fire which occurred at the home of Martinez.
Additionally, Henley did not rule on the suppression and exclusion of lab-tested evidence and results motion since evidence was not yet submitted.
The purpose of this Article 39a hearing is to consider 49 motions which are amenable to disposition on either tentative or final basis by the military judge. This hearing is equivalent to a civilian court's pre-trial motion hearing.