Fort Sill commander grants Soldier clemency
October 7, 2010
FORT SILL, Okla.-- Fort Sill's Commanding General has granted clemency to a decorated war veteran.
Sgt. Justin Boyle was charged with involuntary manslaughter in September 2009 for the death of Pfc. Luke Brown, a fellow paratrooper at Fort Bragg, N.C.
He was transferred to the correctional facility on Fort Sill and was set to be released in six months until Maj. Gen. David Halverson, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general, granted him clemency.
Boyle has served four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and was credited with capturing more than 400 insurgents, according to information from his trial.
According to the Army Times website, the incident that landed Boyle behind bars started with a night out with fellow Soldiers in Fayetteville, N.C. Witnesses said Brown ran from the bar into the nearby woods. Boyle and the other men from their 82nd Airborne Division intelligence unit chased after Brown in an effort to return him to his barracks.
Testimony during the trial said Brown had choked one of the men before the others eventually punched, kicked, choked and handcuffed Brown to get him into a vehicle. Prosecutors said Boyle then used a choke hold on Brown twice until he was unconscious and that move fatally injured him.
Defense lawyers said Brown's death was a freak accident and that Boyle and the others were following the buddy system to never leave a man behind.
A military jury, in a 6 to 3 decision, convicted Boyle. The Army's autopsy, a key part of the evidence, concluded Brown's death was a homicide caused by asphyxia. But initially the Army Medical Examiner had found both cause and manner of death as undetermined.
On behalf of the defense, Dr. Michael Baden, a world-renowned forensic pathologist, said the choke hold used by Boyle was applied properly, and the cause of death was a cardiac arrhythmia from a diseased heart.
"Private Brown had a very enlarged abnormal bad heart. The kind of heart that could set-off a fatal cardiac arrhythmia, by exertion, as he was running around for close to an hour or by emotional upset, which also was occurring while he was intoxicated," Baden said during an interview with ABC news.
"What I've gone through matters nothing to how much I miss my friend," said Boyle, after his guilty verdict was handed down. "I was trying to keep him safe. ... I loved that kid, and I'm going to miss that kid for the rest of my life."
Halverson said his decision was due in part to several factors, to include the wishes of the deceased Soldier's family.
Boyle will be released from confinement Oct. 28. His conviction is currently being appealed.