Husband had been violent only once before, wife tells court at Naples
NAPLES, Italy — The wife of a Naples- based sailor charged with assaulting her testified Tuesday that only once in their three years of marriage had her husband been physically violent.
On the night of June 3, Petty Officer 1st Class Charles Flanning pushed her, pulled her hair and choked her, causing her to temporarily black out, Petty Officer 2nd Class Demetria Lomax-Flanning testified Tuesday on the second day of her husband’s general court-martial.
“Looking into his eyes was like looking at somebody else. … It was like he was a possessed person or demon. His eyes were like, I don’t know, like evil,” Lomax-Flanning testified.
“To me, he was a time bomb waiting to explode.”
Her statements go to the heart of the defense’s case: Flanning’s attorneys contend that the sailor’s four months in Iraq traumatized him so badly that he temporarily went insane on the night he allegedly choked and bruised his wife.
When Lomax-Flanning regained consciousness that night, she saw her husband standing several feet from her, biting his fingernails and crying. When she asked him what had happened, he embraced her, repeatedly saying that he was sorry, she testified.
Flanning, 34, a master-at-arms and military dog handler at Naval Support Activity Naples, pleaded not guilty Monday to the charges of assault consummated by a battery, and aggravated assault with means and force likely to produce death or grievous bodily harm. If convicted, he faces a maximum punishment of 3½ years of confinement, a dishonorable discharge, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.
Throughout his wife’s roughly 90 minutes of testimony, Flanning repeatedly wiped his eyes with tissues.
The five-officer jury saw photographs of Lomax-Flanning taken the morning of June 3 at the base hospital that showed she had bruising on her neck, shoulder, arm, knee and foot — and bright red eyes caused by blood from broken vessels that had pooled in the whites of her eyes.
The hemorrhaging can be caused when oxygen and blood flow are cut off from the brain, testified Dr. (Lt. Cmdr.) Eric Schweitzer, the doctor who treated and photographed her.
Lomax-Flanning testified that her husband returned from Iraq a different man. He was withdrawn and detached from their relationship. He wouldn’t eat and showed little interest in his job, which he loved. And, he started talking in his sleep, she said.
Flanning served with his bomb dog in Iraq from October 2004 to February 2005 with the Army’s 1st Cavalry Division.
Petty Officer 1st Class Samuel Salts, also a dog handler, testified that Flanning returned from Iraq without the motivation to be the “hard-charger” he was before the deployment.
Salts, too, had been deployed to Iraq, and testified that when he returned, he and two other sailors, as a group, received about 20 minutes of a psychological debrief upon their return. To his knowledge, that was all the formal counseling the Navy provided its sailors.
Salts said he urged Flanning to seek counseling, but Flanning “insisted he was all right,” Salts testified.