Investigating officer recommends general court-martial
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait – The Article 32 investigating officer recommended that the case of United States versus U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Alberto B. Martinez be referred to a general court-martial Nov. 1 at Camp Airifjan, Kuwait.
Martinez, formerly of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 42nd Infantry Division, New York Army National Guard, is charged with two counts of premeditated murder in the deaths of his company commander, Capt. Phillip T. Esposito of Suffern, N.Y., and Milford, Penn., and 1st Lt. Louis E. Allen, the former operations officer for HHC, 42nd Inf. Div.
Martinez is accused of planning and conducting a June 7 attack at Forward Operating Base Danger in Tikrit, Iraq, which resulted in the subsequent deaths of the two officers.
The investigating officer presiding at the hearing, Col. Patrick J. Reinert, ruled that reasonable grounds existed to recommend the Martinez case be referred to a general court-martial.
In addition, he found reasonable grounds to believe four aggravating factors existed in the case that warranted consideration by the General Court-Martial Convening Authority to refer the case Capital.
The four aggravating factors outlined by the investigation officer are:
1. The offense was committed in such a way or under circumstances that one or more persons, other than the victim were unlawfully and substantially endangered
2. The offense was committed in a time of war
3. The accused knew that the victims were in execution of their offices as commissioned officers and
4. The accused could be found guilty in the same case of another violation of Article 118 (Murder); multiple murders occurred in the same incident.
The investigating officer also ruled that evidence existed to charge Martinez with the additional crime of violation of Article 121 (Larceny), for removing grenades and using them in a personal vendetta, therefore depriving the government the use of the property during lawful combat operations in Iraq.
Additionally, Reinert ruled that reasonable evidence existed to charge Martinez with violation of Article 134 (General Article). Specifically, prejudice of good order and discipline in the Armed Forces; conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the Armed Forces; and use of weapons of mass destruction (hand grenade/claymore mine) against a U.S. national abroad.
These recommendations and conclusions will be delivered to the Special Court Martial Convening Authority for his action, said Maj. Matthew P. Ruzicka, chief of military justice, Multi-National Corp-Iraq, Camp Victory, Iraq.
“The Special Court-Martial Convening Authority has several potential options after receiving the investigating officer’s conclusions and recommendations,” Ruzicka said.
“The potential options for the [SCMCA] include dismissing the charge or either of the specifications, referring either or both of the specifications to a special court-martial, or forwarding the charge and two specifications to the General Courts-Martial Convening Authority with a recommendation,” Ruzicka said. If the SCMCA decides to recommend a general court-martial, he would forward that recommendation to the MNC-I Commanding General, Lt. Gen. John R. Vines. Vines will make final decision which could be a capital or non-capital referral in the case of a general court-martial, Ruzicka said.
If Martinez is found guilty “of a violation of article 118(1) of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice, the mandatory sentence is life in prison with eligibility of parole. He could also receive a sentence of death,” Ruzicka said.
All told, the defense and prosecution called a total of nine witnesses during the proceedings. The witnesses ranged from a U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Division detective who investigated the scene of the attack, to a U.S. Air Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician who made determinations on the type of explosives used in the attack at the “Water Palace” that took Esposito’s and Allen’s lives. Various Soldiers from the 42nd Inf. Div. were also called to the stand.
“He was a good officer and a good Soldier,” said Staff Sergeant Ashvin Thimmaiah of the fallen Esposito. “He followed the standards, and enforced them to the letter.”
Thimmaiah, the readiness noncommissioned officer for HHC, 42 Inf. Div., played the board game “Risk” on a regular basis with both Esposito and Allen, and he also had a working relationship with Martinez.
Members of the audience included the widows of the fallen Soldiers along with the spouse of the accused.
The Article 32 Investigation adjourned at 10:35 a.m.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT COL BILLY J. BUCKNER, MULTI-NATIONAL CORPS-IRAQ PUBLIC AFFAIRS, BY E-MAIL AT MNCI-PAO-VICTORYMAINJOC@IRAQ.CENTCOM.MIL.
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