Task Force Liberty Soldier Charged in Deaths of Unit Officers
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 16, 2005 A soldier in Iraq has been charged with two counts of premeditated murder in connection with the June 7 deaths of two other soldiers in his unit, military officials in Baghdad announced today.
The charges were preferred June 15 against Army Staff Sgt. Alberto B. Martinez, 37, a supply specialist assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 42nd Infantry Division (Mechanized), a Multinational Force Iraq statement said.
The soldiers died at Forward Operating Base Danger, near Tikrit, in what was first reported to be an enemy mortar attack. But on June 10, officials announced a criminal investigation was under way in connection with the soldiers' deaths.
Officials said the charge -- two specifications of premeditated murder under Article 118 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice -- along with supporting evidence, will be forwarded through the chain of command for review and recommendations on how to proceed. An attorney from the U.S. Army Trial Defense Service is representing Martinez. He may retain a civilian defense attorney to represent him at his own expense and at no cost to the government, officials said.
The accused soldier is in pretrial confinement at a military facility in Kuwait, the MNF-I statement said.
Martinez is charged with killing Capt. Phillip T. Esposito and 1st Lt. Louis E. Allen. Both officers were assigned to the accused soldier's New York Army National Guard unit. Esposito was the company commander; Allen served as a company operations officer.
"Staff Sergeant Martinez has been and will continue to be afforded the extensive rights under the Uniform Code of Military Justice," said Col. Billy J. Buckner, spokesman for the Multinational Corps Iraq.
The initial investigation by responders and military police indicated that a mortar round struck the window on the side of the building where Esposito and Allen were located at the time, officials said. Explosive ordnance personnel later determined the blast pattern was inconsistent with a mortar attack.
(From a Multinational Force Iraq news release.)