Investigating Officer Recommends General Court-Martial
American Forces Press Service
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait, Nov. 1, 2005 A U.S. soldier accused of killing two officers in a June 7 attack may face a general court-martial and could receive the death penalty, military officials here announced today.
An Article 32 investigation - the military justice system's equivalent of a grand jury proceeding - determined that reasonable grounds exist to try Staff Sgt. Alberto B. Martinez on two counts of premeditated murder.
Martinez, formerly of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 42nd Infantry Division, New York Army National Guard, is charged in the deaths of his company commander, Capt. Phillip T. Esposito, and 1st Lt. Louis E. Allen, the company's former operations officer.
The investigating officer presiding at the hearing, Army Col. Patrick J. Reinert, ruled that reasonable grounds existed to recommend the Martinez case be referred to a general court-martial. He also found reasonable grounds to believe aggravating factors existed in the case that warrant the general court-martial convening authority to consider referring the matter as a capital case, with death among the possible sentences.
The investigating officer also ruled that evidence existed to charge Martinez with 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. Reinert also ruled that reasonable evidence existed to charge Martinez with 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 against a U.S. national abroad.
These recommendations and conclusions will be delivered to the special courts-martial convening authority for his action, said Maj. Matthew P. Ruzicka, chief of military justice for Multinational Corps Iraq.
"The special courts-martial convening authority has several potential options after receiving the investigating officer's conclusions and recommendations," Ruzicka said. "The potential options ... 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 special courts-martial convening authority decides to recommend a general court-martial, he would forward that recommendation to Army Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, commander of Multinational Corps Iraq, Ruzicka explained. Vines will make final decision, which could be a capital or non-capital referral in the case of a general court-martial, he added.
The defense and prosecution called a total of nine witnesses during the Article 32 proceedings. The witnesses included an Army Criminal Investigative Division detective who investigated the scene of the attack and an Air Force explosive ordnance disposal technician who determined the type of explosives used in the attack. Soldiers from the 42nd Infantry Division also were called to the stand.
(From a Multinational Force Iraq news release.)