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YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The court-martial of a sailor charged with breaking his baby’s leg will proceed after a military judge ruled that the sailor is not entitled to another probable cause hearing.

Capt. Carol Gaasch ruled Saturday against Petty Officer 3rd Class Charles Lee’s defense motion that he should get another Article 32 hearing. Her decision means the case will proceed to trial, although no date has been scheduled.

It’s the second time Lee’s case has been set for trial.

Lee underwent an Article 32 hearing in March, after his son was seen at the base hospital and staff there noticed injuries consistent with abuse.

The Article 32 hearing officer decided there was enough evidence for Lee to be court-martialed. But in June, the charges were dismissed. According to base officials, that was because Japanese authorities wanted jurisdiction in the case.

The case stalled, officials said, because Japanese authorities couldn’t muster sufficient evidence to prosecute. It was returned to Navy jurisdiction, and in December, charges were again referred for court-martial.

Lee’s defense lawyer argued, unsuccessfully, that because the Navy had dismissed the case, it must provide another Article 32 hearing to again determine if probable cause exists before proceeding with a court-martial.

Lee is charged with two counts of assaulting a child. Prosecutors allege that sometime between June and August 2002 in Yokosuka, Lee struck his then-6-month-old baby in the chest, and at some point between August and September of that year, Lee broke the baby’s leg.

The maximum penalty, were Lee to be convicted of both charges, is four years’ confinement.

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Nancy is an Italy-based reporter for Stars and Stripes who writes about military health, legal and social issues. An upstate New York native who served three years in the U.S. Army before graduating from the University of Arizona, she previously worked at The Anchorage Daily News and The Seattle Times. Over her nearly 40-year journalism career she’s won several regional and national awards for her stories and was part of a newsroom-wide team at the Anchorage Daily News that was awarded the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.
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