KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — An American airman has been charged in the death of a U.S. Navy petty officer who was found dead in the passenger seat of a car in Kaiserslautern during a traffic stop in Germany in December.
"On March 10, 2014, charges of murder and other violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice were preferred against U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt Sean M. Oliver, 34, of American Forces Network – Europe,” 86th Airlift Wing spokeswoman Sandra Archer wrote in an emailed statement Friday to Stars and Stripes.
Oliver, a broadcast engineer for AFN at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, was charged with assaulting and strangling U.S. Petty Officer 2nd Class Dmitry Chepusov, who also worked for AFN. Oliver was also charged with obstructing justice and making false statements about Chepusov’s death, according to Archer.
Oliver, 34, was stopped by German police early on the morning of Dec. 14 for driving erratically and was later determined to have been legally intoxicated, according to a German police spokesman. During the stop, the police discovered Chepusov unresponsive in the car's passenger seat. Medical personnel later pronounced Chepusov dead at the scene.
A German autopsy concluded that Chepusov died of “force to the neck,” and a German judge charged Oliver with manslaughter before he was remanded to U.S. custody.
The U.S. military did not place Oliver in pretrial confinement until days later. Initially, according to a December statement from the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations, the suspect — now known to be Oliver — was remanded to his unit by his commander.
Oliver later landed in pretrial confinement, where he spent more than two months without charge.
“An Article 32 hearing will be scheduled to inquire into the truth of the matters set forth in the charges and recommend whether the charges should be adjudicated at a court-martial,” Archer wrote. “People are reminded that the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty."