Tag Archives: Prosecutors Accused of Misconduct

Army Ranger-Aviator Fights Uphill Battle to Prove Innocence as Military Court Denies Vast Majority of Witness Requests

Over the weekend, I shared three new articles about some of the testimony that took place before Col. Andrew Glass at Fort Campbell, Ky., early last week. In short, the military judge heard arguments from attorneys on both sides about whether unlawful command influence and prosecutorial misconduct had surfaced in the prosecution of Army Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin. Today, I share details about witnesses who were prevented from appearing and ask “Why?”

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.

Now, I’ll briefly recap what I shared over the weekend:

• The headline of the first article, Officer’s Accuser Described as ‘Untruthful Since Childhood’, neatly summed up the testimony of a California woman who is the sister of Major Martin’s accuser;

• The headline of the second article, Local Prosecutor Says Fort Campbell Counterparts Tried to Pressure Her to Drop Charge Against Army Officer’s Accuser, did the same; and

• In the third article, Prosecutors Accused of Misconduct, Breach in Controversial Sexual Assault Case Against Army Officer at Fort Campbell, I focused on the testimony of Army lawyers and whether they were being honest with the court.

While important testimony was spotlighted in the articles above, several other witnesses were prevented from testifying during 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. In fact, prosecutors objected to 19 out of 21 witnesses requested by the defense, and only a handful of those witnesses ended up being allowed to testify.

SENIOR OFFICERS DENIED AS WITNESSES

Among those prevented from testifying were Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the recently retired Army chief of staff shown in the center of the graphic above. If you’re thinking he might have been called as a means for the defense to bring in “star power,” think again. Back when Odierno was a mere lieutenant colonel at Fort Lewis, Wash., Martin was a young lieutenant AND his executive officer. In fact, in an officer evaluation, then-LTC Odierno described then-1LT Martin as a “top of the line” officer of “unquestionable integrity.”

Also deemed “off limits” by the court was Maj. Gen. Mark R. Stammer, the man shown at right in the graphic above. A brigadier general (a.k.a., “one-star general”) at the time he made the decision to prosecute Major Martin, he soon earned a second star and a slot as commander of Africa Command’s Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. It would have been interesting to hear his take on why he decided to pursue a conviction of Major Martin after investigations by multiple civilian and military agencies had found no substance in any of the accusations against the 29-year Regular Army officer.

In addition, it would have been interesting to hear General Stammer respond to the testimony of Major Martin’s letter-writing sister, Juliet Andes, whose name also appeared on the list of witnesses initially denied by the prosecution. Email evidence shows General Stammer alerted prosecution attorneys about her email within hours of receiving the electronic letter she had written to him. According to Andes, those prosecutors badgered her for days afterward.

I suspect courtroom observers would have salivated over the testimony of LTC Ryan P. O’Connor, a man who served as Major Martin’s brigade commander at the time allegations surfaced. The lieutenant colonel was denied as a witness, defense sources tell me, because he’d conducted his own investigation into the allegations and was known to have been appalled at the poor excuse for military justice he’d seen taking place before his eyes. Since being transferred from Fort Campbell to Fort Hood, Texas, he has steadfastly refused to reply to Major Martin’s investigators’ repeated attempts to contact him. Can’t blame him. He probably wants to safeguard his own career, too.

CIVILIAN PROSECUTOR DENIED AS WITNESS

Initially denied as a defense witness, Katherine (Garber) Foster, the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s Attorney for Christian County (a.k.a., “the local civilian prosecutor”), was allowed to testify after she showed up in the courtroom on her own accord. Notably, she told the court Army prosecutors tried to pressure her to drop a bigamy charge against Major Martin’s Accuser. Makes one wonder if military prosecutors feared such prosecution might hurt the credibility of their star witness who, by the way, is set to go on trial Oct. 22 in Hopkinsville, Ky.

MILITARY INVESTIGATORS DENIED AS WITNESSES

Also on the list of witnesses who could have shed light on the weakness of the prosecution’s case are several individuals who investigated the allegations against Major Martin while working for civilian and military agencies.

For instance, it would have been interesting to hear Army Counter-Intelligence investigators testify about their investigation into allegations that Major Martin had been some kind of international spy. They could have told the court several things, including the following:

1) They could have told the court about how cooperative Major Martin had been during their six-month investigation which included surveillance and wiretapping as well as an extensive search of his off-post home;

2) They could have told the court about how the laptop allegedly stolen by Major Martin was inoperable and had been out of the Army inventory for seven years before his accuser and her new male friend, a former Army Supply officer, turned it over to the FBI; and

3) They could have told the court about how Major Martin had passed a three-hour polygraph exam they had administered.

Likewise, it would have been interesting to hear Army Criminal Investigation Command agents testify about how they had confirmed that the man who had fathered the first child of Major Martin’s accuser had, as she had long claimed, been decapitated in a logging accident in Oregon almost 20 years ago. Immediately after CID agents testified, it would have been interesting to see the shocked look on their faces when the reportedly-decapitated man walked into the court-room to testify as told investigators working on Major Martin’s behalf he is willing to do.

Finally, it would have been interesting to hear Military Police investigators explain why, during their investigation of allegations against Major Martin, they refused to accept documents and evidence he tried to deliver to them in an effort to further prove his innocence.

Stay tuned for more details. Meanwhile, be sure to read my other articles about Major Martin’s case.

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.

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.

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.