Convicted GI demoted for Stuttgart bar fight
December 26, 2003
STUTTGART, Germany — An Army staff sergeant found guilty of aggravated assault will be allowed to stay in the military, an eight-person panel decided Tuesday night.
Army Staff Sgt. Kishann Smith will lose two pay grades and be demoted to corporal, confined to Patch Barracks for 60 days with extra duty and docked $912 a month pay for two months.
Army prosecutor Capt. Kenneth Bacso had asked the panel to give Smith the maximum of three years in a military prison and boot him from the Army.
Bacso’s office was closed Wednesday, and he was unavailable for comment.
On the night of Nov. 15, 2002, Smith and Navy Petty Officer Richard Rohr fought in a Stuttgart area bar during which Smith hit Rohr in the head with a glass.
Rohr lost his left eye due to his injuries and expects to shortly be medically discharged from the Navy after a 15-year career.
Smith’s attorney, David Court, said he was “very satisfied the panel sent him back on his career.”
Smith originally had been charged with maiming, but Court successfully argued to the jury that the attack was in self-defense.
The panel found Smith not guilty of obstruction of justice and making false statements, charges that resulted from allegations Smith tried to convince a German woman to lie to investigators.
The jury did not believe those accusations, Court said.
Smith, who is assigned to the U.S. European Command headquarters in Stuttgart, was found guilty Tuesday during a court-martial of aggravated assault of Rohr.
Rohr still must undergo additional cosmetic and reconstruction surgery. The petty officer now wears a glass eye.
Smith’s attorneys had argued that the staff sergeant had been defending himself.
Court, one of Smith’s two lawyers, asked the panel to consider sentencing his client to less than seven months in prison, which could allow him to stay in the Army. “Find a fair punishment,” he said.
Rohr, who is the father of two, had wanted to stay in the Navy and complete 20 years of service to earn his pension, but he said his future now is unclear.
“I really don’t know what I’ll do,” he said. “Everything in my life has changed.”