Deliberations begin for Landstuhl airman accused of rape
June 16, 2005
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — A military jury began deliberating on Wednesday in the case of an Air Force airman accused of raping a German woman he met at a bar.
The jury, which includes five enlisted members and two officers, began going over the case at noon and had not reached a verdict by early evening.
If convicted, Airman 1st Class Michael J. Briestensky, a biomedical equipment apprentice with the 435th Medical Squadron at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, faces a maximum sentence of the death penalty.
The 25-year-old woman testified on the opening day of the general court-martial on Tuesday that she and a pair of friends met Briestensky and a group of friends at a bar in downtown Kaiserslautern on Sept. 25. Toward the end of the evening, they went to Briestensky’s dormitory at Kapaun Air Station to party some more.
The woman said she passed out on the couch and later awoke half-naked with Briestensky on top of her. She said she tried to push him off but she was too drunk.
Military defense lawyers argued on Wednesday that the woman made up the story to cover up the rape so her boyfriend wouldn’t break up with her. Before she told her boyfriend about the rape, he testified on Wednesday, he confronted her about rumors that she performed oral sex on Briestensky.
She denied the allegations, but Airman 1st Class Bradley Snyder, a friend of Briestensky, testified on Tuesday that he saw the woman appear to be having oral sex with his buddy that night.
Military prosecutors told jurors that Snyder, who admitted to drinking at least 15 alcoholic drinks that night, wasn’t credible because he was so drunk and he made up the story to save his friend from getting in trouble.