Lawyer wants medic’s confession nixed
January 24, 2009
VILSECK, Germany — Defense attorneys for one of the soldiers charged in the alleged shooting deaths of Iraqi detainees in 2007 wants a military judge to suppress the soldier’s confession to Army investigators.
Army Sgt. Michael P. Leahy Jr., 27, is facing charges of premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit premeditated murder, accessory after the fact and obstruction of justice for his alleged role in two separate incidents in which several Iraqi detainees were killed.
Leahy, a medic with the 172nd Infantry Brigade, will face court-martial on the charges starting Feb. 17. At a Rose Barracks courtroom on Thursday, his attorneys argued during a motions hearing that Leahy’s sworn statement made to Criminal Investigation Command agents on Jan. 18, 2008, should be inadmissible.
A stoic Leahy watched as his appointed military counsel, Capt. James Hill, and the government’s lead counsel, Capt. Derrick Grace, spent most of the day arguing over a motion to suppress his confession.
Hill, along with Leahy’s civilian counsel, Frank Spinner, tried to convince the military judge that the agents improperly coerced Leahy’s confession.
They also questioned whether the CID agents involved in the questioning had properly informed Leahy of his Miranda rights.
"Were the techinques used by CID (even) lawful?" Hill asked.
The judge, Col. Timothy Grammel, told the defense and prosecution that he could decide on matter as early as Monday.
Six other members of what used to be 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment out of Schweinfurt, Germany, also faced charges, according to Army prosecutors.
Two of the soldiers — Spc. Belmor Ramos, 23, and Spc. Stephan A. Ribordy, 25 — have been convicted and have received prison sentences for their role in the deaths of the four Iraqis in March or April 2007. Ribordy’s sentence was reduced under the agreement he would testify against some of the accused.
Grammel also oversaw Ribordy’s court-martial.
One of the others, Sgt. 1st Class Joseph P. Mayo, also admitted his involvement in the death of the four detainees.
But Leahy and Master Sgt. John E. Hatley have also been charged with a separate detainee death that allegedly occurred in January 2007.
Leahy referred Thursday to Hatley, his former first sergeant, as "the greatest man I’ve ever met," calling him a role model, mentor and father figure.
While Leahy and Mayo were making sworn statements to CID last January, Hatley remained silent, invoking his right to counsel.
Awarded a Purple Heart for a bullet wound to the neck as well as a Bronze Star Medal for the 15 months he spent in Baghdad, Leahy had dreams of going to Ranger school, according to testimony.
He has spent about half of his Army career in Iraq.