Tag Archives: Fort Leavenworth

My Answer Hasn’t Changed After Four Years

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.

SFC Kelly A. Stewart (Army) and CMSgt. John Stewart (USAF Ret.)

SFC Kelly A. Stewart (Army) and CMSgt. John Stewart (USAF Ret.)

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.

You can learn more about the book and read its endorsements at ThreeDaysInAugust.com. Likewise, you can order a copy by clicking here or on the graphic below.

To read about other military justice cases I’ve followed, click here.

For links to other articles of interest as well as photos and commentary, join me on Facebook and Twitter.  Please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  Thanks in advance!

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.

Is Accuser’s Facebook Update Riddled With Inaccuracies?

After reading my recent article about Michael Silva’s request for clemency, a friend of Silva’s shared what appears to be damning observations about the allegations that landed the former Air Force military training instructor behind bars for 20 years, convicted of multiple sex crimes.

Alleged Facebook status update posted by Michael Silva's accuser Sept. 4, 2012.

According to MSgt. Lisa Chloros, USAF Ret., this is a screenshot she captured of a Facebook status update posted by Michael Silva’s accuser Sept. 4, 2012.

“What is interesting is these ‘alleged’ victims don’t realize that, when they lie about things like rape and life in general, they will be found, especially in social media,” wrote MSgt. Lisa Chloros, USAF Ret., in a comment on my Facebook page Tuesday. Via Facebook message earlier today, she noted her findings date back as far as 2009 and include many social media postings. In addition, she asked me to make it clear she is aiming her comments only at those engaged in the business of making false allegations.

One of those things, she explained, was a status update posted by Silva’s accuser on her Facebook page Sept. 4, 2012. The text of that update appears below with only minor modifications for clarity while the photo above shows her exact words:

“The person who sexually assaulted me was my training instructor. When I reported it to a doctor at Wilford Hall Medical Center because I realized the flashbacks I was having were causing me to blackout. I told him I just needed him to tell me how to stop passing out after flashbacks because I couldn’t risk my career! He looked straight at me and said we aren’t going to talk about that. I was discharged for migraines, which the doctor admitted to me I didn’t meet the criteria for that diagnosis but he would recommend discharge because I wasn’t going to ruin his career. My training instructor literally stalked me until discharge. The last thing he said to me is “Are you going back to your home of record?” I stayed home for Christmas and moved away. For years, it’s affected my life. I didn’t tell anyone for many reasons after being discharged. I’ve been working on this issue to be taken care of. I recently found a promotion list. He is now a chief master sergeant and stationed a few hours from me. It’s taking senators to stop him now! Thanks to help at the VA, I’m doing much better. They changed a diagnosis a civilian doctor gave me of bipolar disorder, realizing my symptoms were from military sexual assault and post-traumatic stress disorder. Nightly nightmares, anxiety attacks, flashbacks and sleep deprivation is devastating to a person. Thank You God for giving me the strength to do what I said I would do the night it happened, that is not let him win and one day see that he ends up in Fort Leavenworth. Please let everything myself and those backing me be successful in holding him responsible for his actions.”

Below, I break out four items Sergeant Chloros gleaned from that Facebook status update:

1) Silva’s accuser claims the person who sexually assaulted her is now a chief master sergeant. Silva, however, was a master sergeant (i.e., two ranks lower than chief) who had been selected for promotion to senior master sergeant (one rank lower than chief) and was not allowed to put on that rank due to the allegations she had made against him.

2) Silva’s accuser claims she recently found a promotion list, implying his name was on it. The newest promotion list at the time of her Facebook posting, the December 2011 yearly Air Force chief master sergeant promotion list, did not list anyone with the last name, Silva, and Michael Silva’s name didn’t appear on any promotion list until Feb. 28, 2013 — over five months after his accuser had posted her status update.

3) Silva’s accuser claimed (Silva) was “stationed a few hours from me,” despite the facts she was living in the Pacific Northwest and he was living in San Antonio and had been living there since 2009.

4) The military doctor Silva’s accuser claims she contacted is now a civilian physician who lives and works in California. He testified during Silva’s trial in January that no female basic trainee ever reported to him that she had been raped and, if one had made such a report, he would have reported it immediately.

“I just discredited her whole story with her own words,” Sergeant Chloros said, by simply analyzing one Facebook status update.

According to Sergeant Chloros, some aspects of the accuser’s social media activity were presented during trial, but many more were only discovered after the trial. That in mind, I reached out to Joseph A. Esparza, the San Antonio-based civilian defense attorney who helped represent Silva, ans asked him if any arguments were made concerning Facebook status updates posted by Silva’s accuser in September 2012 that appear to conflict with her trial testimony. When I receive an answer to my question, I’ll share it in an update.

If, based upon the details highlighted above and in the previous article, you believe Silva deserves some form of clemency, I encourage you to reach out to Maj. Gen. Mark A. Brown, 2nd Air Force commander, who is the convening authority (a.k.a., “the decision-maker in the case). All three of the men listed below are worthy contacting with your concerns:

MAJOR GENERAL MARK A. BROWN <– Update: He is the convening authority!
2nd Air Force
Keesler AFB, MS
Email: mark.brown@us.af.mil

c/o 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
2080 Wilson Road
JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, TX 78234-5004
Phone: (210) 671-2907
Email: usaf.jbsa.502-abw.mbx.fsh-public-affairs-office@mail.mil

Air Education and Training Command
1 F Street, Suite 1
JBSA Randolph TX 78150-4324
Phone: (210) 652-5224
Email: darryl.roberson@us.af.mil

Thanks in advance for reading and sharing the article above and those to follow, and please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here.

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.

Sixth Anniversary of Military Injustice Observed

SIX YEARS AGO TODAY, a trial began for Army Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart inside a military courtroom in Germany.

Army Green Beret Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart went from being a highly-decorated combat veteran in the top one percent of his profession to being a convicted felon. It began with a night in a hotel room. It ended in prison. Read about his wrongful conviction in Three Days In August. Click on image above to order book.

Army Green Beret Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart went from being a highly-decorated combat veteran in the top one percent of his profession to being a convicted felon. It began with a night in a hotel room. It ended in prison. Read about his wrongful conviction in Three Days In August. Click on image above to order book.

After a German woman had falsely accused Stewart of rape and kidnapping, the politically-correct military justice system seemed to do everything it could do to convict the veteran of multiple combat tours in Kosovo and Iraq — and they did it in only two days, with the trial beginning early on Aug. 18, 2009.

During the trial, prosecutors presented no physical evidence and no eyewitnesses. When Stewart’s defense attorneys tried to obtain copies of the medical records of Stewart’s accuser so they could be shared in court, his accuser — and the German government — refused to produce the records. Had those records been shared during the trial, they would have shown she suffered from mental illness and had, in fact, spent several months in a care facility prior to the night she spent with Stewart after they met at See Studio, a discotheque in Stuttgart.

Incredibly, the military judge did not end the trial at that point. Instead, he allowed this miscarriage of military justice — and several others I highlight in the book — to take place before the trial reached its conclusions on the evening of Aug. 19, 2009, and members of the court-martial panel (a.k.a., “jury”) announced their verdict.

On Day Three, Stewart was sentenced to eight years in prison and sent away to the U.S. Military Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

Six months after the trial ended, I learned it had taken place and began to uncover details about Stewart’s case. Soon, I found myself reading the Record of Trial and speaking with individuals close to the case, including members of Stewart’s biological and military families.

Eighteen months after my interest was sparked, I finished chronicling Stewart’s life story and conviction and released it in book form as my first nonfiction book, Three Days In August​.

Click on image above to learn more about Three Days In August and read endorsements of the book.

Click on image above to learn more about Three Days In August and read endorsements of the book.

Though I’ve written many articles about the case and some big names have endorsed the book, the only way you’ll understand why I remain so passionate about wanting to see justice for this TOP ONE PERCENT SOLDIER is by reading Three Days In August​.

Three Days In August​ is available in paperback and eBook at Amazon.com. Signed copies are available as well.

For links to other articles of interest as well as photos and commentary, join me on Facebook and Twitter.  Please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here. Thanks in advance!

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.

Military Injustice: Remembering Michael Behenna’s Story

EDITOR’S NOTE: Though I lost many of the dozens of articles I wrote about a Soldier from my home state of Oklahoma and the tragic situation that consumed his life (See paragraph six of this piece for details about the losses), I managed to save the article below which I share again, only slightly modified since being published three years ago today. Please read and share.

Then-1st Lt. Michael Behenna

Then-1st Lt. Michael Behenna

I’m on the road right now, but when I came across some terrible news this afternoon that I simply had to share:  The U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals rejected the appeal of Michael C. Behenna of Edmond, Okla., and upheld his murder conviction and 15-year prison sentence at the U.S. Military Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth.

Who is Michael Behenna?  He is the Army Ranger first lieutenant who, on July 31, 2008, was charged with the premeditated murder of Ali Mansur, a known Al-Qaeda agent operating near Albu Toma, an area north of Baghdad.  He is the one-time leader of the 18-member Delta Company, 5th Platoon of the Army’s 101st Airborne Infantry Division who, seven months later, was convicted of unpremeditated murder and sentenced to 25 years confinement — later reduced to 15 — at Fort Leavenworth.

Why do I staunchly support Lieutenant Behenna?  Because even the government’s top witness, Dr. Herb MacDonell — a man who wasn’t allowed to testify after new evidence was shared with him and he told prosecutors he believed the young officer was innocent.

Below is an excerpt from a December 2009 post, one of the more than four dozen posts I’ve written about Lieutenant Behenna’s case, that outlines the forensics expert’s position:

An e-mail Dr. Herbert Leon MacDonell sent to Capts. Meghan Poirier, Jason Elbert and Erwin Roberts — Army prosecutors all — just after 4 o’clock in the afternoon Feb. 27, 2009, should have warranted their attention for several reasons, but they opted to treat the information it contained in exactly the same manner as they had treated it when delivered in person a day earlier.

Largely as a result of the prosecutors’ decisions, Army Ranger 1st Lt. Michael Behenna is now serving a 20-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth after being convicted by a seven-member court-martial panel of unpremeditated murder in the shooting death of Ali Mansur, a known Al-Qaeda operative.

Why should the prosecutors have paid attention to what Dr. MacDonell had to share with them?

For starters, they should have paid attention, because Dr. MacDonell is the expert witness in blood stain forensics they had flown to Fort Campbell, Ky. to testify in the case. Now serving as director of the Laboratory of Forensic Science in Corning, N.Y., Dr. MacDonell’s expert forensics career spans five decades and includes such high-profile and complex cases as the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and the case against O.J. Simpson. In other words, he’s no slouch when it comes to investigations.

For reasons inexplicable, prosecutors opted not to call upon Dr. MacDonell to testify in the case; therefore, he was never able to share with the court something new he had learned about the case — something vital that prosecutors had not shared with him.

Thanks, however, to the fact that he sent that single e-mail, Lieutenant Behenna’s parents, Scott and Vicki Behenna, now hold on to an ever-so-slim hope that they can bring an end to the family nightmare involving their son, now 26.

Read the unedited text of Dr. MacDonell’s e-mail message below and judge for yourself whether you think Lieutenant Behenna deserves, at a minimum, a new trial or, more appropriately, a full presidential pardon:

Friday, February 27, 2009
4:07 p.m.

Dear Captain Poirier:

I came home to an incredible pile-up of work but I shall try to send an invoice to you within a few days. On that issue I should advice you that I may have exceeded what was appropriate because of staying two nights rather then one. My estimate for my total cost was based on one night there but I shall still try to keep the total within your budget even if I have to reduce the number of hours I spent here in preparation for my testimony.

On another issue I am somewhat concerned that I did not testify and have a chance to inform the court of the only logical explanation for this shooting. As I demonstrated to you and to the two other prosecutors, Dr. Berg, Sgt. McCaulley, and Sgt. Rogers?, from the evidence I feel that Ali Mansur had to have been shot in the chest when he was standing. As he dropped straight down he was shot again at the very instant that his head passed in front of the muzzle. Admittedly, this would be an amazing coincidence, however, it fits the facts and as I told you on Wednesday, it fits the facts and I can not think of a more logical explanation.

This scenario is consistent with the two shots being close together, consistent with their horizontal trajectory, consistent with the bloodstains on the floor, and consistent with the condition of the 9mm flattened out bullet which was tumbling after leaving Mansur’s head or body. I do not know where this bullet was recovered but I would expect after impact to the concrete wall it fell very close to that wall. The other bullet should have been close to the first and there should have been two impact points on the wall.

On Thursday afternoon when I heard Lt. Michael Behenna testify as to the circumstances of how the shots were fired I could not believe how close it was to the scenario I had described to you on Wednesday. I am sure that had I testified that I would have wanted to give my reenactment so the jury could have had the option of considering how well the defendant’s story fit the physical facts. This, of course, would not have been helpful to the prosecution case. However, I feel that it is quite important as possible exculpatory evidence so I hope that, in the interest of justice, you informed Mr. Zimmerman of my findings. It certainly appears like Brady material to me.

It was a pleasure meeting you and your team and I learned one thing; the military life is not for me. You guys are getting up about the time we go to bed.

Respectfully Submitted,

Dr. Herbert Leon MacDonell, Director

This photo is one of several Dr. MacDonell examined.

This photo is one of several Dr. MacDonell examined.

The details above offer just a snippet of the injustice that has befallen this young officer and his family.  In another post, Photos Show Scene Where Trail of Injustice Began, I shared photos of the shooting scene as well as the text of the sworn affidavit (below), dated April 21, 2009, in which Dr. MacDonell explains how knowledge he obtained while waiting to testify in the case could have changed dramatically its outcome:

I was retained by the government to testify as an expert witness in bloodstain analysis. On 16 December 2008 I received a FedEx package from Captain Megan Poirier. It contained ten envelopes of photographs and reports as well as a video of the scene. Included was a report by Barbara Liveri, and the autopsy report done by an Iraqi doctor. Prior to trial, I told the government that using only the photographs at the scene and the nature of the surfaces where the bloodstains were located made it difficult to reach any definitive conclusions. I had been contacted before trial by Jack Zimmerman, one of the lawyers for First Lieutenant Behenna and told him the same thing. I was set to travel to Fort Campbell on Wednesday, February 25, 2009, to return on Friday, February 27, 2009. I was called and asked to come a day earlier, which I did. I sat in on the testimony of Dr. Paul Radelat and Mr. Tom Bevel. They testified on Wednesday.

At a recess on Wednesday, I was in the prosecutor’s office in room 13 in the courthouse. While talking with Dr. Berg about the bullet wounds Ali Mansur received, Dr. Berg gave me information I previously did not have. Dr. Berg told me that the wound trajectories for both the chest wound and the head wound were horizontal and essentially parallel.

After thinking about this new information, I did a demonstration to show the only logical explanation which was consistent with the autopsy findings, the bloodstains, the final resting position of the body, and the time between shots. I had Sergeant MacCauley stand directly in front of me, and facing me. I asked him to raise his right arm a little and then I poked my right index finger in to the right side of his chest under his arm and said, “Bang! You have just been shot, so drop down.” The sergeant dropped to his knees and as his head passed in front of my finger, I said, “Bang! You have been shot again.” I remarked that this was consistent with the physical evidence. All three prosecutors, Captains Poirier, Roberts, and Elbert were present when I gave this demonstration and informed them of my opinion.

On Thursday morning during one of the breaks I examined the 9mm bullet and saw it had struck a hard object while traveling backwards. This is consistent with the bullet tumbling as it exited on of Ali Mansur’s wounds. The uniformity of the extruded lead into a disk-like configuration shows it was traveling in a horizontal trajectory if the surface it struck was a flat, very coarse, vertical surface. Logically, that could have been the culvert’s concrete wall.

On Thursday afternoon, the day after this demonstration, I listened to Lt. Behenna testify. I had seen no written statement made by him. This was the first time I learned what he said had happened. After Lt. Behenna described the shooting, I turned to Dr. Berg and told him, “That is exactly what I told you guys yesterday.” There was a recess about 5:00 pm and Lt. Behenna was still on the witness stand. I was told by Captain Poirier that I would not be needed, and a flight was arranged for me for that evening. I told Captains Poirier and Roberts that I could stay another day if necessary. They told me my testimony would not be needed and I could leave to get my flight.

When I went back to room 13 to get my hat, coat, and briefcase the captains on the prosecution team were already in that room. As I gathered my things I reminded them that although the scenario I had presented to them the day before was unlikely, it still was the only theory I could develop that was consistent with the physical evidence. It was also exactly the way Lt. Behenna had described the events. Their reaction was noticeably cold. I went back into the courtroom and went over to Jack Zimmerman. As I was putting on my coat I remarked that I was sorry I was leaving because I would have made a good witness for him. He asked why, and I told him I was a government expert, and could not discuss it with him until after the trial. He asked me not to leave but I did. I did not believe it would have been proper for me to have told Attorney Zimmerman any more than I did. I was not “eager to communicate” with him or I would have told him my concern at that time on Thursday.

I expected that the prosecutors would tell Mr. Zimmerman what I had told them. When I was released without being called as a defense witness, and had returned to Corning, New York, I was concerned. I consulted two friends, a Supreme Court judge and a lawyer, and decided to check with Captain Poirier to ensure she had passed on the opinion I had given the prosecutors Thursday afternoon when I was getting my hat, coat, and briefcase.

From reading the judge’s ruling, I believe the misunderstanding may have resulted from the way I interpreted the questions asked during my telephone testimony on Saturday, February 28, 2009.

When I testified that I told Dr. Berg, “That is exactly what I told you guys yesterday,” and did not remember telling my reaction to any other person, I meant right there at that moment in the courtroom. There was no one else but Dr. Berg sitting nearby who had witnessed my demonstration the day before. The prosecutors were at counsel table then.

However, at the next recess, when I went to get my hat, coat, and briefcase, I specifically told the three prosecutors in their office in room 13 the same thing I told Dr. Berg. As I testified on February 28, 2009, “And as I was leaving I told the prosecuting group, I said, “That was exactly what I told you.’”

I do not feel that it is fair to put the opinion I related to Dr. Berg and Captains Poirier, Roberts, and Elbert on Thursday in quotation marks. Until Wednesday afternoon I had not been told the wound trajectories for both shots were horizontal and parallel. I had not been provided the bullet to examine. The scientific process required me to consider the physical and medical evidence in reaching my final conclusion. That is why I wanted to see the bullet on Thursday. When I heard Lt. Behenna describe what happened, I did not say other witnesses were lying, or that my conclusion was based on my opinion of the Lieutenant’s credibility. My expert opinion was based on the fact that the Lieutenant’s description as to how the shooting occurred fit the physical evidence.

I have consulted and testified in many trials, and I know what exculpatory evidence is. I firmly believe the jury should have heard my testimony.

Of course, there’s much more to this story. The good news, however, is that Behenna was released from the U.S. Military Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth Friday, March 14, 2014.

For links to other articles of interest as well as photos and commentary, join me on Facebook and Twitter.  Please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here. Thanks in advance!

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.

Sean Hannity Accomplice to Crime of Military Injustice

When the folks at “The Sean Hannity Show” published an article under the headline, U.S. Army Eating it’s Own: A Green Beret Needs Our Help, my head nearly exploded! Then I concluded Sean Hannity can only be described as an accessory to the crime of military injustice committed by the U.S. Army against one of its own, Sgt. 1st Class Kelly Stewart.

Click on image above to read article at Hannity.com.

Click on image above to read article at Hannity.com.

Why? Because I’ve been plugging away for almost four years, trying to get anyone in the mainstream news media — Sean Hannity included — to pay attention to Stewart’s case.

Stewart, a Green Beret medic and Level One sniper, was falsely accused in November 2008 of rape and kidnapping by a then-28-year-old German woman. Nine months later, he was convicted during a military trial that took place during three days in August 2009.

Interestingly, no physical evidence or eyewitnesses were presented by the Army prosecutor during that trial. The guilty verdict seemed to hinge solely on the words of the accuser, a woman who not only spent months in a mental institution prior to meeting Stewart but also stood to gain financially (i.e., her government would compensate her as a “victim of sexual assault”) if Stewart was found guilty. In the end, she made money.

During a post-trial hearing months after the conviction, several individuals who did not know Stewart testified that his accuser had told multiple lies while on the witness stand during the trial. After hearing their testimony, however, the military judge decided to ignore it.

Today, after serving time behind bars at the U.S. Military Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Stewart lives as a convicted sex offender with nothing to show after a stellar career during which he served in places like Kosovo and Iraq and rose to the top one percent of the Army without a single blemish on his record until he was falsely accused.

One would think such a story might interest Hannity, but no.

Even with an inside track to one of Hannity’s radio show producers, whom I don’t hold responsible for Hannity’s poor decisions, Hannity hasn’t devoted a moment of on-air attention to the case of the highly-decorated combat veteran whose life story is chronicled in my first nonfiction book, Three Days In August.

Even with endorsements of the book by New York Times best-selling author Richard Miniter, anti-Islamic terrorism activist and Atlas Shrugs founder Pam Geller, The Band of Mothers founder Beverly Perlson and others, Hannity has opted to ignore the military injustice suffered by this elite Soldier.

Hannity may have high ratings on radio and television, but I’ve turned him off.

Click on image above to order copy of book.

Click on image above to order copy of book.

To learn more about Stewart, visit ThreeDaysInAugust.com or read other articles about his case. To order a copy of the book, click here or on one of the links below.

FYI: Yes, I realize I’m burning a bridge by publishing this piece, but who cares; it was a bridge to nowhere.

For links to other articles of interest as well as photos and commentary, join me on Facebook and Twitter.  Please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here. Thanks in advance!

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.