Almost every time I give a media interview about my first nonfiction book, Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight For Military Justice, I’m asked why I wrote it. My answer goes something like this: “I believe Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart, the man whose life is chronicled in the book, deserves a new trial.” Then I explain why.
Below is the long version of my explanation that I wrote down and published in November 2011, one month after Three Days In August was released. It’s the explanation I still offer today:
On March 30, 2010, I came across something about the case of SFC Stewart, a Green Beret who had been convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison after being accused of raping and kidnapping a German woman.
Though I cannot recall or locate whatever it was exactly that made me aware of SFC Stewart’s case, I did keep records of what transpired from that day forward. It began with an email to the Soldier’s father, CMSgt. John Stewart (USAF Ret.), in which I wrote two words: Call me.
During the days and weeks that followed, Chief Stewart forwarded everything he could about the case. In addition, he helped me secure an authenticated copy of the Record of Trial and encouraged me to read it. If, after reading the complete ROT, I didn’t think something had gone horribly wrong with SFC Stewart’s case, Chief Stewart said he would respect my decision.
It didn’t take long, however, for me to conclude that SFC Stewart had indeed become a victim of military justice gone awry.
During the next 12 months, I gathered other documentation, discussed the case with others with close ties to the case and wrote as much as I could write based upon the case records. Then my work on the book took a completely different turn.
On March 31, 2011, SFC Stewart was released from the U.S. Military Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., the result of having his sentence reduced to three years and being released on probation after serving 19 months behind bars.
Soon after his release, I was talking with him by phone.
Before it was over, I had interviewed him multiple times, spending more than a dozen hours on the phone and exchanging countless emails — as the only writer, reporter or media person with whom he agreed to discuss the case.
The rest is history.
Based on extensive interviews and offering never-before-published details about the case, Three Days In August paints a portrait of military justice gone awry that’s certain to make your blood boil.
To read about other military justice cases I’ve followed, click here.
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