Jury finds Naples-based sailor guilty of assault
NAPLES, Italy — It took nearly 90 minutes for a jury on Thursday to find a Naples-based sailor guilty of assaulting his wife, but sentencing was delayed after an afternoon of emotional testimony from the sailor and his wife.
The jury convicted Petty Officer 1st Class Charles Flanning, 34, a master-at-arms and dog handler at Naval Support Activity Naples, on two counts of assault consummated by a battery.
He was acquitted of a more serious charge of aggravated assault with means and force likely to produce death or grievous bodily harm.
When he addressed the court during the punishment phase of the general court-martial, Charles Flanning’s words reduced his wife, some court spectators, and even one of the jurors to tears as he talked about his nightmarish experience in Iraq, and how tough life has been since he has been kept apart from wife.
He also choked up as he delivered his unsworn statement to the jury of five officers.
He apologized to his wife for his actions, which included shoving her, dragging her by her hair, and choking her — but with the caveat that he does not remember doing that to her.
The defense had argued that Flanning’s time in Iraq traumatized him so much that he temporarily went insane the night he assaulted his wife.
“I love her, I really do miss her and I’m sorry,” he told the jury, adding he has “a deep hurt inside.”
His wife, Petty Officer 2nd Class Demetria Lomax-Flanning, tearfully testified Thursday that she feels as much victimized by the Navy as by her husband.
After the Navy filed charges against Flanning following the June 3 attack, officials imposed a military protective order, equivalent to a restraining order, which bars all contact, including by telephone, between the couple.
“I know what he did wasn’t right, but I still have a right to be beside him,” Lomax-Flanning said, adding she didn’t like being called as a witness for the government to testify against him.
She testified that “if his mind is right” after counseling, she would like to explore working on their marriage.
Counselors from the Fleet and Family Support Center at Naples testified that Flanning has completed domestic-violence and anger- management counseling, and credited him with spearheading a support group at Naples for veterans returning from combat zones.
Sentencing deliberations are scheduled to resume Friday. Flanning faces a maximum punishment of six months in jail, reduction to E-1, bad-conduct discharge, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.