Katterbach soldier gets five years for drug possession, fleeing police
WüRZBURG, Germany — A Katterbach-based soldier who led German police on a high-speed chase after a botched drug sting in March was sentenced Thursday to five years in prison.
After hearing evidence for three days, a court-martial panel deliberated five hours before convicting Sgt. Robert B. Clayton, 25, of the 6th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery, of eight offenses. The charges included possession and use of marijuana, destroying evidence, fleeing civil authorities, assault on a law enforcement officer, and operating a passenger car wantonly or recklessly, said Maj. Shane Bartee, co-prosecutor in the case.
The jury acquitted Clayton on one charge of conspiracy to distribute marijuana. Judge (Lt. Col.) Robin Hall also dismissed seven other charges — either drug-related or connected to Clayton’s alleged forgery of documents in a promotion packet — after defense attorneys argued the charges hadn’t been proven, Bartee said.
Clayton’s troubles began Aug. 26, 2003, when a soldier who shared a barracks bathroom with him saw what looked like marijuana in the room and called military police. Clayton apparently flushed the drugs down the toilet, Bartee said, but drug-sniffing dogs found evidence of the drug in his room and outside his window. He later failed a urinalysis test.
Already charged with these offenses, he got mixed up in another drug-related incident in March, Bartee said. Another soldier, facing court-martial on his own drug charges, agreed with German police in Ansbach to help on a drug sting with his alleged supplier, a German woman named Monica McLemore.
The soldier agreed to meet McLemore in a parking lot, and she arrived in a car driven by Clayton. When a plain-clothes German policeman approached the car with his gun drawn to arrest her, Bartee said, Clayton sped off. He hit the policeman, who fired at the car’s tire but missed.
According to testimony from German police, Clayton led them on a high-speed chase through Ansbach’s residential neighborhoods that eventually involved as many as 10 police cruisers.
The police later found bags of marijuana, psilocybin mushrooms and the party drug Ecstasy along the route, apparently thrown out the window by the fleeing couple.
Eventually, police cornered the car and nabbed McLemore, but Clayton fled, running through yards and leaping over fences, said his civilian attorney, David Court. He hid briefly in drainage ditch before being caught and arrested.
Court argued Clayton had innocently given a ride to his friend McLemore not knowing she had drugs in the car and drove off only because he feared a car-jacking.
After convicting Clayton of most of the remaining charges, the panel deliberated 2½ hours Thursday morning before handing down his prison sentence, said Capt. Catherine Cunningham, the lead prosecutor.
Clayton also was reduced to the lowest enlisted rank, stripped of all pay during his prison term, and dishonorably discharged from the Army.