Hearing to determine if AFN worker charged in death should face court-martial
By MATT MILLHAM | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 19, 2014
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — The Air Force has scheduled a hearing to determine whether an airman charged with murdering an American Forces Network broadcaster in Germany will face a court-martial.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Sean M. Oliver has been charged in connection with the apparent strangling death in December of one of his co-workers, Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dmitry Chepusov. An Article 32 hearing — the military equivalent of a grand jury proceeding — is set for May 12.
Oliver, a 34-year-old broadcast engineer, and Chepusov, a 31-year-old broadcaster, both worked for AFN at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. German police discovered Chepusov dead in the passenger seat of a car Oliver was driving on Dec. 14. The Air Force charged Oliver on March 10 with murder, obstruction of justice and making false statements about Chepusov’s death.
Few details about the case have emerged since German authorities turned the case over to Air Force investigators in December.
“We won’t further discuss any details because we don’t want to affect or prejudice the outcome of a fair trial,” base spokeswoman Sandra Archer wrote in an email Tuesday.
A spokeswoman for the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations in Quantico, Va., did not respond by Stars and Stripes’ deadline to questions about the case. Oliver told police that Chepusov was an acquaintance and that the two had been out drinking together before becoming separated either late in the evening of Dec. 13 or early in the morning Dec. 14, 2013, according to a statement from German authorities in mid-December.
Oliver later found Chepusov heavily intoxicated but alive and put him in the car’s passenger seat, the airman told police.
Oliver was pulled over for driving erratically early on the morning of Dec. 14 and was found to be legally intoxicated, the prosecutor’s office in Kaiserslautern, said. While searching Oliver’s vehicle, police discovered Chepusov unresponsive in the passenger seat. Medical personnel later declared him dead at the scene.
An autopsy by German investigators concluded that Chepusov died of “force to the neck.” The prosecutor’s office said German authorities are no longer involved in the case.
Stars and Stripes reporter Marcus Klöckner contributed to this report.