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Military judge denies ‘code-red’ case appeal

A former staff sergeant from the 173rd Airborne Brigade will continue to serve time at the military’s confinement facility in Mannheim, Germany, after losing an appeal for a new trial.

Maj. Gen. Frank Helmick, former commander of the Southern European Task Force (Airborne), decided to let stand a two-year sentence that Stephen Burley received for directing three other soldiers to assault another, underachieving soldier in what is known as a “code red” in January 2007.

Lt. Col. Edward O’Brien, the military judge who presided over the court-martial in May 2007, listened to additional testimony at a hearing in February.

He eventually made a recommendation to Helmick, who reached his decision before giving up command last week, according to Maj. Ryan Dillon, SETAF public affairs officer.

Dillon noted that the case still will be appealed through the military justice system, as are all convictions.

Burley, who attended the hearing, maintains his innocence.

He said the three soldiers — all court-martialed and sentenced to short prison terms before returning to their unit — acted on their own.

Pvt. Brandon Jonjack, a witness who served time at the confinement facility with all four soldiers, testified at the hearing that he believed Burley was innocent.

But — contrary to an affidavit that he denied signing — he said none of the three other soldiers admitted that to him.

Charles Gittins, Burley’s civilian defense attorney, had hoped to use Jonjack’s affidavit to free his client or get him a new trial.


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