An entrance to Fort Cavazos, Texas.

An entrance to Fort Cavazos, Texas. (Rose L. Thayer/Stars and Stripes)

AUSTIN, Texas — A Fort Cavazos soldier charged with murder and another charged as an accomplice in a shooting death will face separate courts-martial in May at the central Texas Army base, according to court records.

Officials at the 1st Cavalry Division have declined to link the two men’s charges or specify from whose death the charges stem. But both soldiers are charged with crimes from incidents that occurred on the same dates at Fort Cavazos, and both were listed on the Army’s online docket on the same day last month.

Spc. Nicholas Lowery is charged with unpremeditated murder and two counts of obstructing justice, according to the 1st Cavalry Division, which released the document on Thursday that outlines the charges against Lowery.

He is accused of shooting a sergeant in the head with a handgun on or about Aug. 26 or 27, according to the court document. He is also accused of tampering with physical evidence at the scene and then lying about the shooting on Aug. 27 and again on Sept. 7.

The name of the sergeant who Lowery is accused of killing is redacted from the charge sheet.

Lowery is due in court April 5 for a motions hearing. While the docket does not list an arraignment date for him, it does indicate he has pleaded not guilty and will face a jury trial May 6-10. No attorneys were listed for him.

Spc. Rene Heber is charged with accessory to murder after the fact, accessory to involuntary manslaughter after the fact and obstructing justice, according to the 1st Cavalry Division. He was arraigned Feb. 1 before military judge Col. Maureen Kohn.

Heber is accused of knowing that another specialist shot a sergeant in the head and killed him on or about Aug. 27 while on post and lied about it, according to his charge sheet. The name of the specialist and the victim are redacted from the document. Heber again lied to law enforcement about the shooting on Sept. 7, according to the document.

Heber is also accused of tampering with physical evidence at the crime scene. He is due in court on April 15 and has a jury trial scheduled to begin May 20. He pleaded not guilty and is in pretrial custody.

The Army Criminal Investigation Division declined to comment on the case because the investigation is still ongoing.

Lowery and Heber are assigned to Bravo Company of the 553rd Division Sustainment Support Battalion within the 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade, according to court documents.

A third soldier assigned to that brigade died on the day listed in the men’s charging documents, according to his obituary.

The family of 30-year-old Sgt. Alfredo Martinez told Univision in August that the soldier died Aug. 27 of a gunshot wound at Fort Cavazos. Two soldiers were with Martinez at the time and they initially told authorities Martinez shot himself, according to the Spanish-language news outlet. However, the family said they did not agree with the initial assessment that Martinez would have shot himself.

The family declined last week to speak about the case.

Martinez was buried in the Fort Bliss National Cemetery in El Paso, according to his obituary. The San Antonio Express-News reported he was a test, measurement and diagnostic equipment maintenance support specialist assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade. He enlisted in 2017, according to the newspaper.

He was one of four soldiers to die within a three-week span at Fort Cavazos, which sparked scrutiny from media outlets and the Brandon Caserta Foundation. Focused on suicide prevention, the foundation is led by Patrick and Teri Caserta, the parents of a Navy sailor who died by suicide in 2018.

The couple also helped pass legislation in 2021 to allow troops to seek a mental health evaluation outside the chain of command. The Army had not yet complied with the new law in August but announced implementation the following month.

Fort Cavazos officials have not responded to a request for an update on the cause of death for the other three soldiers. At the time of the deaths, base officials said early indications showed the soldiers likely died by suicide.

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Rose L. Thayer is based in Austin, Texas, and she has been covering the western region of the continental U.S. for Stars and Stripes since 2018. Before that she was a reporter for Killeen Daily Herald and a freelance journalist for publications including The Alcalde, Texas Highways and the Austin American-Statesman. She is the spouse of an Army veteran and a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in journalism. Her awards include a 2021 Society of Professional Journalists Washington Dateline Award and an Honorable Mention from the Military Reporters and Editors Association for her coverage of crime at Fort Hood.

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