Tag Archives: Criminal Investigation Division

Prosecutors Accused of Misconduct, Breach in Controversial Sexual Assault Case Against Army Officer at Fort Campbell

Days after publishing a brief article about the hearing that took place Monday and Tuesday inside a military courtroom at Fort Campbell, Ky. I’m able to share more details about what took place as a military judge heard from attorneys on both sides about whether unlawful command influence and prosecutorial misconduct have tainted the prosecution of Army Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin. This is Part Three of a three-part series.

Army Maj. Christian "Kit" Martin is shown with two of his nephews in this undated photo.

Army Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin is shown with two of his nephews in this undated photo that his sister included in a letter to the general who ordered his court-martial.

First, some background: Major Martin, 47, is an Army Ranger and attack helicopter pilot with a distinguished 29-year military career — including three combat tours in Iraq — under his belt. Soon after telling his “wife” he wanted a divorce, he found himself the target of serious allegations and multiple criminal investigations followed during the next three years. Today, he faces the possibility of 58 years in prison if convicted on the most recent charges stemming from his ex-wife’s allegations of sexual assault and abuse. Because there is much more to it than I can share in one paragraph, I recommend you read the overview article about the case published Sept. 4 before you read any further.

The Article 39A hearing, essentially a pre-trial hearing during which the parties hashed out details in advance of having panel members (i.e., jurors) present, began at 8 a.m. with attorneys on both sides meeting alone with Col. Andrew Glass, the military judge.

Ninety minutes later, attorneys began making arguments about potential evidence to be presented and potential witnesses to be called during the upcoming trial. More than four hours of banter and discussion followed until 2 p.m. when the opposing parties took a one-hour break for lunch. After returning to the courtroom, four hours of testimony began. It continued for more than five hours the following day.

In the space below, I share details of the hearing based, in part, upon reports obtained from hearing attendees, none of whom happen to represent the prosecution which, to date, has opted to remain silent about the case.

BREACH OF ATTORNEY-CLIENT PRIVILEGE?

During the hearing’s second day, Maj. Jenny S. Whyte-Schlack testified she had spoken with Major Martin during a face-to-face meeting in November 2013 and, soon after, had written a memo containing details of the 10-minute meeting and shared it with members of the prosecution staff. In addition, however, she testified that she had not read Major Martin his Booker Rights, a statement read to individuals facing the possibility of nonjudicial punishment. Major Whyte-Schlack’s admissions are significant in light of the fact that Major Martin filed a grievance against her April 15, 2015.

In his grievance, Major Martin explained that he believed Major Whyte-Schlack was not working as a prosecutor at the time they met and that she said nothing to make him think otherwise during the meeting. Further, he claimed that her actions to inform members of the prosecution staff about their conversation constitute a breach of attorney-client privilege.

WITNESS SAYS SHE OVERHEARD PROSECUTORS

Another Army attorney called to testify during the second day of the hearing was Capt. James P. Garrett, the lead prosecutor in Major Martin’s case.

I’m told by a witness to the hearing that Colonel Glass warned Captain Garrett to only answer the questions and to not embellish his answers to questions offered by Major Martin’s counsel, Tucker Richardson III.

Often-heated exchanges between Captain Garrett and Richardson centered on what took place when the prosecutor offered Major Martin a choice between two less-than-appealing options during a meeting in March 2014.

Captain Garrett said he was not familiar with Article 15 procedures when he met with Major Martin soon after the major had left the office of Col. Michael Minor, where Part 1 of Article 15 specifications were read to him by the acting rear division commander. Still, the captain admitted, he had taken it upon himself to meet with Major Martin — without his attorney present — and offer him the choice between accepting the Article 15 — a form of non-judicial punishment that’s deadly to the career of any military officer who accepts it — or, as an alternative, facing a court-martial.

Captain Garrett was also asked about an email message he’d sent to Major Martin’s legal counsel March 26, 2014. In it, he had used words to the effect of “if Major Martin wanted to meet with the commanding general about his Article 15, then he would have to plead guilty first and, if he didn’t, then I would advise further charges could be added. When he did not deny sending the email, Captain Garrett essentially confirmed that he had sent it as a threat aimed at Major Martin (i.e., “Plead guilty to an Article 15 or we’ll find more dirt and prosecute you on more charges”). Apparently, Captain Garrett knew elevating the case to court-martial level would render as inadmissible the results of a polygraph exam Major Martin passed during an earlier investigation.

Captain Garrett was also asked how Major Martin’s Article 15 charge morphed into an Army Criminal Investigation Division investigation on the same day the major tried to meet with the commanding general and request an impartial adjudicating authority. This later escalated into 13 new charges, including rape, sexual assault and child abuse, against the major.

The captain responded by saying he contacted the accuser in April 2014 and then spoke with her neighbor, a man whom the defense described as “her lover,” and learned about several instances of alleged abuse. The allegations were followed by a new CID investigation.

Finally, Captain Garrett was asked if had had a discussion with Maj. Jacob D. Bashore, the special victims prosecutor who was the subject of my Aug. 27 article, Army Lawyer Surfaces in New Bogus Prosecution Effort, about Major Martin’s accuser the previous day while both were in the waiting room outside the courtroom. Specifically, he was asked if he had described the accuser as “totally un-credible” and if he had told Major Bashore that “(the prosecution) was only using her accusations as a threat and could drop them later.”

After Captain Garrett vehemently denied having spoken such words, Richardson
called Major Martin’s friend, Laura Spencer, to the stand.

A nursing instructor at a local university, Spencer testified that, one day earlier, she had been asked by the bailiff to wait in a side room. While waiting in that room, she said she overhead Captain Garrett tell Major Bashore the accuser “was totally un-credible as a witness, and that they were using her charges as a threat to Major Martin, and could drop them later.”  She said she also heard Major Bashore agree and that she heard Captain Garrett also say that they “could drop the charges later.”

Not surprisingly, the Army prosecutors denied such a conversation ever took place when asked about the alleged exchange on the witness stand.

To read other articles about Major Martin’s case, click here.

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Unlawful Command Influence, Prosecutorial Misconduct Cited as Reasons to Dismiss Charges Against Army Officer

Attorneys representing Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin cited unlawful command influence and prosecutorial misconduct as reasons why all charges against their client, including charges of sexual assault, should be dismissed before their 47-year-old client goes on trial Oct. 12 Dec. 1 at Fort Campbell, Ky. If convicted on all counts, he faces the possibility of being sentenced to 58 years in prison.

Maj. Gen. Mark R. Stammer, gives Secretary of State John Kerry a tour of Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, May 6.

Maj. Gen. Mark R. Stammer, gives Secretary of State John Kerry a tour of Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, May 6.

Among those alleged to have engaged in unlawful command influence and prosecutorial misconduct, according to the motion to dismiss dated June 28, 2015, is Maj. Gen. Mark R. Stammer, the former acting commanding general at the post who now serves as commander of Africa Command’s Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa in the East African nation, Djibouti. Others named are members of the Army prosecution team and include Special Victim Prosecutor Maj. Jacob D. Bashore, a man who was highlighted recently in a post under the headline, Army Lawyer Surfaces in New Bogus Prosecution Effort, and Capt. James P. Garrett, the lead prosecutor in the case.

Beginning on page 14 of the motion, defense attorneys William L. Summers and R. Tucker Richardson III offer a recap of their UCI argument that focuses on actions taken by then-Brigadier General Stammer (Note: I’ve removed the names of Major Martin’s accuser and her family members. In addition, I’ve deciphered a few Army acronyms as necessary):

The entire case and charges against MAJ Martin are solely the result of undo command influence by BG Mark Stammer as part of his personal agenda to make a name for himself in the current politically charged environment of sexual assault and domestic violence in the military. He has done this continually by repeatedly starting new investigations by new agencies against MAJ Martin and pushing all related allegations to a court martial, regardless of the recommendations of his Article 32 Investigating Officer (IO), Special Victim Prosecutor, lead Prosecutor, Deputy Staff Judge Advocate, and even the recommendations of the alleged “victims.”

A review of MAJ Martin’s timeline shows that all the actions taken against him were done in retribution for his and his family’s Congressional Requests, his Inspector General complaint, and his family and friend’s correspondence and complaints to BG Stammer and his supervisors. The “evidence” against MAJ Martin has been created through dubious and selective means while important facts showing the motives and past history of his ex-“wife” Ms. (accuser and her two aka’s) doing the exact same techniques of using and then “burning” men, like (accuser’s first legal husband and father of accuser’s second and third child), has been ignored. (Accuser’s first legal husband) will testify that after spurious allegations were alleged by (accuser), she took his children, two daughters, and has secreted them for over twelve years. He will testify.

The Fort Campbell Prosecution feloniously interfered in civilian court proceedings in order to try and have MAJ Martin’s “ex’s” pending felony charge of bigamy dismissed in Tennessee and Kentucky courts so that they could continue to prosecute him, a violation of ethics and Posse Comitatus that limits the powers of the federal government in using its military personnel to act as domestic law enforcement (18 U.S.C. § 1385, original at 20 Stat. 152).

In fact MAJ Martin’s entire case has been created and recreated by the Prosecution and Army Criminal Investigation Division when they were ordered to open a third new investigation against him by BG Stammer on 2 April 2014, 18 months after he had separated from (accuser) and after he had previously been cleared by civilian law enforcement, child protective services, civilian court under Judge Flemming, and Army Counter Intelligence (CI).

Army CI conducted a secret six month investigation and surveillance on him based solely upon the accusations of (accuser). They had thoroughly interrogated him and searched his house, with his expressed consent. MAJ Martin later passed a three hour polygraph examination conducted by CI experts flown in from Fort Meade (Sep 19, 2013). At the conclusion of the polygraph MAJ Martin was told by Agent Harris that he “would hear no more about any of his ex’s accusations.” Despite all of this, BG Stammer consistently involved and re-involved himself in MAJ Martin’s case. He had him re-assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, secretly flagged him, fired him from his position, punished him, had him report daily to a junior officer with no assigned position, and then had MAJ Martin continually reinvestigated over and over again until BG Stammer could get the false statements he needed from (accuser) to justify a court martial.

On 11 July 2014, the charges were reviewed at an Article 32 pre-trial investigation. Despite the Defense not fighting any charges, only recording statements, on 3 August 2014, the investigating officer recommended that none of the sexual charges be referred to a court-martial as there were not reasonable grounds to go forward and witness testimony did not match the timelines and evidence given. The Prosecution then dropped (accuser’s) allegations of rape and sodomy on their own accord, because they knew she was a patently untruthful. Her Article 32 testimony changed repeatedly so often it was obviously a reckless disregard for the truth by her.

Despite this, BG Stammer overruled this recommendation and insisted all allegations should be resolved at a Court Martial. When MAJ Martin was later advised by his attorneys to resign, with the recommendation of the Prosecution including Special Victims Prosecutor MAJ Bashore, the lead prosecutor CPT Garrett, and even the alleged “victims” (accuser and her children), BG Stammer once again overruled them and demanded a Court Martial (EX CC, Memo ).

Maj. Gen. Mark R. Stammer

Maj. Gen. Mark R. Stammer

Further into their motion to dismiss, the defense attorneys highlighted specifics of the alleged UCI violations by General Stammer and prosecutors. Rather than stretch this out to include everything in the 37-page document, I’ll offer some of the allegations as bullet points:

• Acting outside of Army jurisdiction;

• Reassigning Major Martin after he lodged a Congressional inquiry about his situation;

• Launching a second investigation of Major Martin by Military Police Investigations (MPI) after the major had been cleared by a lengthy Army CID investigation;

• Retaliating against Major Martin after being contacted by the major’s father and sister, both Air Force retirees;

• Violating Major Martin’s right to due process;

• Creating a court-martial by initiating a third investigation;

• Witness tampering/obstruction of justice;

• Witness intimidation (at least two instances); and

• Illegal search.

There is much more to come for Major Martin, a man who put on his first military uniform as a private in 1986, marking the beginning of a career that would not only include serving as an Army Ranger, cavalry scout and attack helicopter pilot but also include becoming a Regular Army officer and serving three combat tours in Iraq.

Learn more about Major Martin and his case by reading this story as well as others. After you read them, please SHARE THEM and stay tuned for more updates!

This article was updated to reflect a change in the trial date.

UPDATE 12/7/2015 at 8:27 a.m. Central: A military judge continued the military trial date for Army Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin to sometime in March 2016, though no specific date has been set.

UPDATE 12/10/2015 at 11:15 a.m. Central: I’ve learned that Major Martin’s military trial date is set for March 14-18, 2016.

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