An airman assigned to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, might stand trial more than 14 months after he allegedly delivered a fatal blow to the head of a fellow airman.

Airman 1st Class Juston L. Besaw of the 721st Aerial Port Squadron was charged last month with involuntary manslaughter in the death of Airman 1st Class Zackery Ryan Allen, according to Ramstein base officials. An Article 32 investigation — similar to a civilian pretrial hearing — is scheduled for Sept. 17, at which time an investigating officer will determine whether the case should go to court-martial.

The incident occurred on May 22, 2008, when Besaw allegedly punched Allen, a member of his squadron, in the head, base spokesman Aaron Schoenfeld said in a written statement. Allen was hospitalized at Landstuhl and died two days later.

Besaw is also charged with illegally using an unspecified controlled substance in November 2008, according to Schoenfeld.

In a story published last weekend in the San Angelo Standard-Times, a newspaper covering West Texas, Allen’s mother, Vicki, and a friend of her son’s, expressed frustration at the amount of time it’s taken the Air Force to prosecute the case.

Schoenfeld said Tuesday that "this timeline is not unusual, particularly with the two charges in the case."

Allen’s death certificate said he died from a blow to the head that severed his left vertebral artery, according to the Standard-Times.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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