Court-martial begins for sailor accused of impersonating NCIS officer
May 16, 2006
RAF ALCONBURY, England — The court-martial for a 20-year-old Navy petty officer charged with kidnapping, indecent assault and impersonating a Navy investigator opened Monday with a key ruling by the military judge.
In a motion hearing closed to the jury, Capt. David White ruled that statements — both verbal and written — made by Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher A. Byard about any indecent sexual assault in connection with a Nov. 18, 2005, episode are inadmissible in the court-martial.
White suppressed the evidence following testimony that Byard made the statements after he was informed by an investigator from the Air Force Office of Special Investigations that he was under suspicion of kidnapping. The investigating officer, however, following consultation with his superior and a legal representative, did not inform Byard he was suspected of indecent assault prior to Byard’s statements.
Byard is a cryptologist maintenance repairman with the Navy Information Operation Detachment at RAF Molesworth.
In a separate motion, White allowed pieces of evidence collected at the suspect’s military housing unit to be entered into the hearing. Byard had signed a form allowing investigators to search his residence, according to courtroom testimony.
The evidence in question includes pieces of hair the victim allegedly intentionally left at the suspect’s residence to prove that she was held there against her will, according to courtroom testimony.
Few concrete details about the case emerged on the first day of the court-martial, as most of the day was focused on pre-trial motions as well as a lengthy questioning of the jurors for jury selection.
Byard is suspected of impersonating a Naval Criminal Investigative Service officer, allegedly saying he was conducting an investigation in order to force the victim back to his dorm room, where he held the airman against her will for roughly four hours and performed indecent sexual acts on her.