Tag Archives: prosecutor

Officer’s Accuser Described as ‘Untruthful Since Childhood’

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 One of a three-part series.

This graphic tells Maj. Christian "Kit" Martin's story in a nutshell. If justice doesn't prevail, he faces the possibility of spending 58 years in prison for something he did not do.

This graphic tells Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin’s story in a nutshell. If justice doesn’t prevail, he faces the possibility of spending 58 years in prison for something he did not do.

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 Hearing

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.

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.

ACCUSER’S SISTER TESTIFIES

The first witness called Tuesday afternoon was an older sister of Major Martin’s accuser. She was patched into the courtroom by phone from her California home.

During her time on the virtual witness stand, she began by telling the court she did not want to testify and had no opinion as to her sister’s credibility.  In addition, she testified she had not seen her 40-something sister much since leaving home many years earlier but had visited her in 2006 when Major Martin was assigned to a unit in Germany. In part due to “issues” that surfaced during that European vacation, she said she and her sister have had little contact since 2006.

At the conclusion of the woman’s testimony, Major Martin’s attorneys presented an audio recording that revealed damning statements she had made during an April 2015 interview with a private investigator. The audio recording included a statement by the woman that her sister, Major Martin’s accuser, had been untruthful since childhood, had a propensity for making up stories for no apparent reason and could not be believed.

Damning indeed.

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

FYI: Parts 2 and 3 of this series will be published Sunday at 8 a.m. and Noon Central, respectively.

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
LABORATORY OF FORENSIC SCIENCE

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.

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Rolling Stone Reporter Boasts ‘Finely Tuned Bullshit Detector’

As an investigative reporter and author, I’ve talked with hundreds of people over the years. Many were politicians with agendas. One had a felony record. Others were experts at determining when people were being deceptive. And then there is journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdely who revealed she has a super power!

Charles Johnson at GotNews.com reported today that the Rolling Stone writer, who now faces allegations she fabricated a story about a gang rape at a fraternity house on the University of Virginia campus, told an audience at the University of Pennsylvania she has “a finely tuned bullshit detector and when it goes off I pay close attention because it doesn’t tend to go off without a reason.”

Of course, she added a caveat: “I’m not a person who assumes that everything is bullshit. If something strikes me as being off I tend to question more deeply about that thing.”

Makes me wonder if she has a future as an Army prosecutor like the one involved in the kangaroo court-martial chronicled in my book, Three Days In August, or, better yet, a polygraph examiner like the many spotlighted in my second nonfiction book, The Clapper Memo.

If you like this article and my other efforts, 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.

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Army Prosecutor Wanted Special Forces Soldier to Break Law, Discuss Classified Info in Open Court; He Refused

Facing a possible life sentence if convicted, Army Green Beret Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart faced substantial grilling by the Army prosecutor who seemed to want him to discuss classified matters in open court during his court-martial on allegations of rape and kidnapping.  Below are excerpts from Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight for Military Justice, the book in which I chronicle this highly-decorated Special Forces combat veteran’s toughest battle ever:

Before his court-martial, Kelly A. Stewart's uniform was covered with signs of his life as an elite Special Forces Soldier.

Kelly A. Stewart’s uniform was covered with signs of his life as an elite Special Forces Soldier until the lies one woman told in a military courtroom brought his life and career to a crashing end.

“They just wanted me to admit that I spoke German, that I am trained in all this ‘secret squirrel’ stuff to beat and interrogate people and everything else,” Stewart said, noting that it’s a facade and that Green Beret professionals like himself are trusted to do national-level stuff for the president of our country on a daily basis.

“The one thing I wouldn’t say in there was… a lie. I told the truth (in response) to the questions that were asked of me.”

What if he had answered all of their questions in open court?

“If I had went up there and said, in a statement, that we do some type of training like, ‘We do free fall blindfolded, you know, to work on the psychological aspects of the mind…’ that reporter that I knew was in the courtroom… what would that person have written in the Stars & Stripes?”

The excerpts above stand as a smidgen of what’s contained in nearly 300 pages taken directly from the Record of Trial, other trial-related documents and interviews with key players involved in the case.

To learn more about why Stewart, a man who served his country honorably, should have never been prosecuted or convicted, order and read Three Days In August. In it, you’ll find all of the blow-by-blow details of the court-martial and post-trial hearing.

To learn more about the book and read two high-profile reviews before you order, click here.

To read other posts about Stewart, click here.

To provide financial assistance to Stewart and his family, click on the “DONATE” button at SaveThisSoldier.com, a website built and managed by Stewart’s dad, himself retired after more than 30 years of service in Air Force Special Operations.

UPDATE 4/19/2015 at 1:18 p.m. Central: Check out the limited-time free-books offer here.

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.