Airman to face Article 32 in gang beating
Airman Nicholas Sims has become the first airman charged for allegedly participating in the 2005 gang beating of Army Sgt. Juwan Johnson.
An Article 32 hearing for Sims of Ramstein Air Base’s 86th Maintenance Squadron is scheduled to begin on the base Monday, said Darlene Cowsert, a spokeswoman with the 435th Air Base Wing.
Sims, 28, faces charges of grievous bodily harm, aggravated assault and failure to obey a lawful order, Cowsert said.
The charges were preferred against Sims on Nov. 28.
The charges against Sims are much less severe than those faced by soldiers implicated in Johnson’s death.
Johnson, a soldier in Kaiserslautern’s 66th Transportation Company, was found dead in his barracks room July 4, 2005.
Johnson was beaten by nine current or former servicemembers — including Sims — for six minutes on the evening of July 3, 2005, during an initiation ceremony into the Gangster Disciples, according to previous testimony from Army Pfc. Latisha Ellis.
As a gang recruit, Ellis was an eyewitness to the alleged beating and now serves as a key prosecution witness.
If the matter proceeds to a court-martial and Sims is convicted on all charges, his potential maximum punishment would likely include confinement, dishonorable discharge, reduction to the lowest pay grade and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.
Sims served as the right-hand man of the local gang’s leader, former Ramstein airman Rico Williams, Ellis has testified.
During the July 3, 2005, beating, Sims punched Johnson 40 or more times, according to Ellis’ prior testimony.
Three soldiers, who stood court-martial this summer in the Johnson case, all faced the more serious charge of involuntary manslaughter.
The first two soldiers who were tried this summer — Pvt. Terrence Norman and Sgt. Rodney Howell — were convicted and sentenced to confinement for their roles in Johnson’s death.
In October, a jury found Army Staff Sgt. Alre Hudson not guilty in the matter.
An airman who previously worked at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and allegedly served as the timekeeper at Johnson’s beating remains under investigation.
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Themitrios Saroglou is currently assigned to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and no charges have been filed against him, according to Lois Walsh with the 96th Air Base Wing public affairs office.
Sims’ Article 32 hearing will determine whether enough evidence exists against the accused airman to proceed to a court-martial.
The hearing is similar to the convening of a grand jury.