Today represents a bittersweet milestone in the life of former Green Beret Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart as one component of the sentence he received during a military trial three years ago comes to an end.
A highly-decorated combat veteran, Stewart spent more than 18 months behind bars at the U.S. Military Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., after an Army court-martial panel found him guilty of numerous offenses — including aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping, forcible sodomy and assault and battery — against a 28-year-old German woman during a trial that took place during three days in August 2009.
Despite a lack of physical evidence and/or eyewitnesses to events that had allegedly taken place in his Stuttgart hotel room one year earlier, it took only two days for members of an Army court-martial panel to find Stewart guilty. The following day, he was sentenced, among other things, to eight years behind bars — later reduced to three — and branded a “sex offender.”
After serving more than 18 months behind bars, he was released from prison March 31, 2011, and began working for a relative on the East Coast. Because, technically, he was still serving his sentence, he had to report to a parole officer on a regular basis — until today when that prison sentence is set to end.
What does Stewart do now?
After the Army Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed his guilty conviction July 26, his only remaining avenues for relief are the Court of Appeals of the Armed Forces — his final level of military appeal — which can grant him a new trial, grant him some form of relief or overturn his verdict entirely, and a presidential pardon. The chances of either coming to his rescue are slim.
To mark this bittersweet milestone, I decided to revisit below some of what transpired in that U.S. military courtroom in Germany and later became the basis for my first nonfiction book, “Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight For Military Justice.”
One of the most-controversial issues that surfaced during the trial had to do with whether or not the court-martial panel would be made aware of and/or shown records related to Stewart’s accuser’s months-long stay in a mental institution.
In one post, Army Judge Violates Soldier’s Constitutional Rights, I examined how the military judge allowed the case to move forward after both the accuser and German government officials refused to release copies of her mental health records. In another, I wondered what the soldier’s accuser had to hide?
Another controversial topic during the trial had to do with the accuser’s strange definition of “contact.” In my post, Accuser’s Strange Definition of “Contact” Highlighted in Book About Green Beret’s Conviction, I highlighted discussions related to that definition as well as the accuser’s testimony about other men with whom she had relationships after she had the one-night stand with Stewart.
The less-than-professional tactics used by prosecutors were highlighted in three other posts.
In one, I provided details of how they tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to get Stewart to discuss classified matters — what he called “secret squirrel” stuff — in open court.
In another, I shared how the prosecutor tried to paint Stewart as a master manipulator whose training helped him know how to control a person — in this case, his accuser.
Finally, I offered evidence of how prosecutors appeared to have helped a taxi cab driver improve her memory while testifying during Stewart’s court-martial. For details, read the post, Miraculous Memory or Coaching of a Witness by Prosecutors?
Beyond this milestone day, Stewart faces a future likely to be full of hardship, including severe limitations on where he can live and work, while carrying the sex offender label.
Visit http://www.SaveThisSoldier.com to learn more about his case and, if possible, make a contribution to his legal defense fund.
FYI: My second nonfiction book, “The CLAPPER MEMO,” is set for release this fall.