Jury acquits soldier of alleged Camp Hovey assaults
September 27, 2008
CAMP CASEY, South Korea — A soldier who threatened two others with a pocketknife when he was drunk was found not guilty of two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon at a Camp Casey court-martial that ended Thursday.
A six-member jury acquitted Pfc. Jacob Tapp, following defense arguments that he was too far away and too drunk to have actually harmed Pfc. Joshua Abel and Pfc. Kevin Cook in a Camp Hovey barracks room on April 12.
Tapp, of the 2nd Infantry Division’s Troop C, 4th Squadron, 7th Cavalry, walked into Abel and Cook’s barracks room late that night, took out a bag of ice from the refrigerator and began heating it up in the microwave.
He then began yelling, "Get out of my room!" multiple witnesses testified during the first day of the trial Wednesday.
After Abel told Tapp to leave, Tapp pulled a knife with a roughly three-inch blade from his pocket.
What happened next was unclear. Abel and another witness said Tapp put the knife to Abel’s throat.
However, another witness demonstrated the knife being held about 10 inches away in court Wednesday, which conflicted with his April 12 statement that the knife had been held to Abel’s neck.
Abel testified under questioning by defense counsel Capt. David O’Mahony that he pushed Tapp away rather easily, then went to get a noncommissioned officer.
Cook, who was lying on his top bunk, told Tapp to stop.
Tapp then lunged with the knife at Cook’s calf, but only came within a short distance before Cook kicked him away.
A letter entered into testimony by Maj. Christopher Perry, a doctor, stated that Tapp’s blood alcohol content was .185 two hours after his last drink. A blood alcohol level of .08 is enough to arrest a person for driving drunk under most U.S. drunken-driving laws.
O’Mahony’s questions to most witnesses centered on Tapp’s drunkenness and on his temperament. Many defense witnesses concurred he has a "peaceful nature."
Tapp’s drunkenness, bodily control and proximity to the alleged victims were all crucial because the charges required the government to prove Tapp’s intent to cause "grievous bodily harm," according to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The jury also declined to convict Tapp of simple assault, which is possible under the military justice system’s option of conviction on "lesser included" charges.