Article 32 hearing on hold for GI accused of killing officers in Iraq
The Article 32 hearing for a soldier accused of killing two of his superior officers on a U.S. base near Tikrit has been delayed, officials said this weekend.
Staff Sgt. Alberto B. Martinez, formerly of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 42nd Infantry Division (Mechanized), was to appear in a military courtroom Monday. But the hearing was delayed indefinitely at the request of his defense lawyers.
“A new date for the hearing has not been determined,” according to a military release.
Martinez faces two counts of premeditated murder in the June 7 killings of Capt. Phillip T. Esposito and 1st Lt. Louis E. Allen.
Their deaths were originally described by the military as an indirect-fire attack on Forward Operating Base Danger, headquarters of the New York National Guard division. A few days later, though, the military said it had opened a criminal investigation.
Martinez was arrested and charged shortly after. He has been held in pretrial confinement at a military prison in Kuwait since his arrest.
Military officials have not publicly offered a motive for the killings. Martinez, 37, from Troy, N.Y., joined the National Guard in 1990 and deployed to Iraq in May 2004, according to military records. He is married and has two children. If convicted, he could face a range of punishments, up to the death penalty.
The convening authority for the court martial is Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, commander of Multi-National Corps-Iraq.
“Previously it was the commander, 42nd ID, but given the anticipated length of the case and upcoming redeployment and demobilization of the unit, the corps commander decided to retain the [court-martial] at his level to lessen disruptions to the legal process,” Col. Billy Buckner, a U.S. military spokesman, said in an e-mail to Stripes.