Doctor gives details in private's death
Stars and Stripes January 24, 2003
HANAU, Germany — Suffering from severe head injuries, Pfc. Clint Lamebear drowned in his own blood, according to the forensic expert who examined the 1st Armored Division soldier’s slain body after it was found Nov. 16 in a filthy Frankfurt garage.
Dr. Hans Leukel, a professor at the University of Frankfurt medical clinic, was called to testify during an Article 32 hearing for Pfc. Andrew Humiston and Pfc. Jonathon Schroeder, who have been charged in Lamebear’s death.
The hearing — the military equivalent of a grand jury hearing — will determine if Humiston and Schroeder should stand trial.
Leukel was one of several witnesses who took the stand in the hearing’s second day.
Several soldiers described the night of Nov. 15, when several soldiers from Friedberg-based 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment were drinking in Sachsenhausen, Frankfurt’s pub district.
Early the next morning, a German man found Lamebear, an 18-year-old Navajo from New Mexico, across from two back alley bars — just four days after he arrived in Germany.
Leukel examined Lamebear’s body at the crime scene and later in his clinic.
The autopsy revealed extensive head injuries as a result of blunt force, Leukel testified. Lamebear was struck at least two times, he said.
Prosecutors passed around grisly photographs showing Lamebear’s swollen face with gaping wounds across his nose and forehead. Injuries included fractures to the front of Lamebear’s skull and face, Leukel said. Bleeding from those filled Lamebear’s lungs, Leukel said.
When prosecutor Maj. Steve Potair asked Leukel if Lamebear drowned from his own blood, Leukel replied, “You could put it that way. It’s part of the injuries.”
Leukel said he did not pin down an exact time of death during his investigation.
At the time of his death, Lamebear had a blood alcohol level of 1.36 milligrams per milliliter, or three times the legal limit in Germany.
Pvt. Bradley Peak, who spent most of the night with Lamebear, testified via telephone to recount a night of binge drinking. The drinking began in Friedberg, he testified. Then the pair joined other soldiers on a train to Frankfurt, where they shared a 40-ounce bottle of malt liquor, Peak said.
Peak said he carried Lamebear’s book bag, which contained Lamebear’s wallet, watch and a bottle of vodka.
At Sachsenhausen, Frankfurt’s South end, the drinking continued, Peak said.
“We were just walking around,” Peak said. “We were showing the new guys our favorite bars.”
Five witnesses also testified via a telephone conference call from Grafenwöhr — where the infantry battalion is conducting gunnery training.
When pieced together, the infantrymen’s testimony painted a picture of the hours leading up to Lamebear’s death.
All of them said Lamebear appeared intoxicated during the early morning hours of Nov. 16. They also said the young soldier seemed happy.
Peak said he last saw Lamebear outside a bar, and by that time, another soldier had Lamebear’s bag.
All the soldiers said Lamebear had been drinking heavily, everything from beers and vodka to a “car bomb” — a glass of Guinness beer with a shot of Bailey’s Irish Creme dropped in.
Humiston and Schroeder were seen drinking at a birthday party held in same bar, according to testimony given by Spc. Fernando Uzueta.
Prosecutors showed photos the suspects taken at the bar. Both appeared to be drunk at closing time, sometime after 2 a.m., Uzueta testified.
Hours later, Uzueta said he saw the suspects chatting with girls outside a karaoke bar, and again on the train back to Friedberg.
Investigators asked if Uzueta saw blood on their clothes, and if either had a limp or swollen hands. Uzueta said he also had been drinking heavily and hadn’t noticed.
However, under defense questioning, Uzueta backtracked, saying he wasn’t sure if he returned to Friedberg with the suspects.
The next night, Saturday, Uzueta talked with the suspects about going out again, he testified. When the suspects replied they didn’t feel like going out, Uzueta was suspicious, he testified.
“It’s kind of weird. They always go out,” Uzueta said. “They looked nervous. They didn’t act normal.”
Investigators asked Uzueta if he saw the suspects cutting up an identification card or if they had a bag with Lamebear’s belongings. Uzueta said he hadn’t.
During testimony, Schroeder sat stern faced, his strong brow pulled tight. At times he would frown and flip through binders full of evidence on the table before him. In contrast, Humiston rested his childlike face on one hand, hunching forward at times.
When court officials stood up for breaks, the accused remained seated. The hearing, which continues Friday, will determine whether the two will face a court-martial on charges of murder, robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, and obstruction of justice.
For the second day, many parts of the hearing were closed to the public, under the order of Col. Michael Tucker, commander of the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division.
The public was barred from all of Wednesday’s testimony, where German investigators and witnesses gave details of the case. While press could not be present, the command allowed a German attorney to observe Wednesday’s testimony, Maj. John Jones said. When asked why portions were closed to the public, Jones said he did not have direct knowledge on the conditions and referred the question to 1st Armored Division officials.
1st Armored Division officials did not provide a reason as of press time.
On Thursday, defense attorneys protested Leukel’s testimony, arguing that they had just received the full autopsy report Thursday morning and did not have a chance to look it over, said Capt. Dean Lynch, Schroeder’s attorney.
Lynch suggested U.S. investigators had the report since Jan 8, but did not disclose the information.
Government prosecutors, however, said they obtained the full report late-Wednesday, said Capt. Troy Stabenow, the government’s attorney.
“Anytime we get a document, we file it with all parties,” Stabenow said.