WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Dec. 5, 2008) -- The jury in the courts-martial case of Staff Sgt. Alberto Martinez returned a verdict of "not guilty" late Thursday afternoon in a military courthouse at Fort Bragg, N.C.

"We are pleased that the military justice system worked and we are grateful for the representation and support of the defense team," said a representative of the Martinez family. "Our sympathies go out to the families' of the victims. This has been a very difficult process for everyone involved and we are happy to be back together again as a family."

The 42nd Infantry Division Soldier with the New York National Guard was charged with violation of Article 118 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice on two specifications of premeditated murder. He was accused of the June 7, 2005, claymore mine and grenade attack at Forward Operating Base Danger, Iraq. The attack resulted in the deaths of two officers: Capt. Phillip T. Esposito and Lt. Louis E. Allen, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 42nd Infantry Division.

During closing arguments on the case, Dec. 2, Martinez defense team lawyer Maj. John Gregory told the jury the government had no forensic evidence that proved Martinez was guilty without a reasonable doubt.

Gregory said the case had never really been investigated and that it was an embarrassment that the Army's Criminal Investigative Division, the CID, had not done the investigation they should have. He said the crime scene had been compromised and that the CID had a preconceived notion of Martinez's guilt.

The defense lawyer also told the jury that while Martinez had made inappropriate comments, had cursed often and had got upset often, those were not proof he had committed the crime. He said the Martinez case was truly a circumstantial case where there was no evidence to convict.

The jury returned its "not guilty" verdict after 6:22 p.m. Dec. 4. The court was adjourned moments later.

(This report was compiled from press releases by the XVIII Airborne Corps Public Affairs Office)