WüRZBURG, Germany — After spending 407 days in pre-trial confinement, Sgt. Keith Brevard was ordered released from the Army jailhouse in Mannheim.

“The warehousing of Sgt. Keith Brevard needs to end,” argued David Court, the soldier’s attorney during Friday’s hearing at the 1st Infantry Division headquarters at Würzburg’s Leighton Barracks.

Charged with faking his own separation, prosecutors contended that Brevard was “cunning” enough to escape the Army again.

Judge (Lt. Col.) Stephen Henley disagreed, denying requests to keep Brevard in custody. Brevard, who served in the division’s 101st Military Intelligence Battalion, has been in jail since Nov. 8, 2001.

Prosecutor Capt. May Nicholson argued that Brevard is likely to flee if released from jail, despite testimony that Brevard had turned himself in when he learned that he was listed as absent without leave, and that he returned to Germany to face those charges without a police escort.

Henley cited those reasons for his decision to release the intelligence analyst.

“This case essentially comes down to status,” said Henley. If Brevard was lawfully discharged by the Army, he should not be subject to further legal action, said Henley.

While higher courts debate that, however, Henley said Brevard will return to his unit to await a trial.

Now, Brevard must wait for a trial that, as Henley put it, “may or may not” ever happen.

In a July 3 hearing, Henley ordered Brevard’s case dismissed, ruling that prosecutors had violated his right to a speedy trial. That ruling, however, was overturned in November by the Army Court of Appeals.

The Court of the Appeals of the Armed Forces, the next higher court, is now reviewing that finding, and Henley said it’s unlikely that any decision will be handed down until this spring.

If Court of Appeals upholds Henley’s decision to dismiss the case, he said, “there is no trial.” In the meantime, Brevard will return to his unit. Court said he expects Brevard will be “treated like an NCO … given appropriate duties.”

The question of whether Brevard should be in uniform at all is at the crux of his saga.

Brevard had been honorably released from the Army on Aug. 11, 2001. At the time, he was under suspicion of stealing computers while deployed to Sarajevo.

When a hearing convened to see if there was enough evidence to send Brevard to trial, officials were embarrassed to find out that he had been discharged. The Army issued a warrant for his arrest, claiming he had faked his own separation.

During Friday’s hearing, prosecutors tried to downplay evidence suggesting Brevard’s commander at the time, Capt. Michael Wilding, claimed that his signature had been forged on Brevard’s clearing papers.

The CID’s Forged Documents Division concluded with the “highest certainty” that despite Wilding’s claims to the contrary, he had in fact signed Brevard’s release papers.

“Your own government expert is unreliable?” Henley asked prosecutors, answering for them that instead they were just unhappy with the results of his findings.

After Henley delivered his finding, prosecutors requested a “gag order” be placed on the defense and prosecution, citing Friday’s Stars and Stripes’ cover story on Brevard’s case.

Prosecutors argued that press coverage could taint potential jurors.

“I am not, at this stage, going to gag anybody,” Henley said.

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