Tag Archives: Ryan O’Connor

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.

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