YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — The fate of Maj. Richard K. Hart, charged with murder in the death of his wife, may depend on which scenario the investigating officer at Hart’s Article 32 hearing, and the 8th Army commander, find more persuasive.

Prosecutors argued that Hart’s affair with a Korean woman led him to plot the death of his wife, Patricia Ann Hart, 53, in his Itaewon apartment, even carefully mapping the route to take to dump her body.

But Hart’s attorneys countered that no evidence clearly suggests the death was premeditated murder; the lack of such evidence, they said, suggests the lesser charge of manslaughter. The 45-year-old officer became snarled in a domestic violence incident that went too far and was a victim of violence as much as his wife and daughter were, they suggested.

Monday was the third and final day of Hart’s Article 32 hearing. Next, Lt. Col. Andrew Morrow, the investigating officer, is to recommend to 8th Army commander Lt. Gen. Charles Campbell what charges, if any, Hart will face in court. Morrow heard closing arguments Monday from prosecution and defense attorneys who offered starkly different accounts of Hart’s situation.

No facts point to Hart thinking about killing his wife before she died, said Capt. James Culp, one of Hart’s two attorneys. No evidence contradicts Hart’s initial account to Criminal Investigation Command, or CID, agents on what happened the night of Aug. 9 or morning of Aug. 10, Culp said.

Hart told investigators that after his wife hit him, he returned with a blow that caused her to fall on the floor. Korean police arrested him Aug. 12 after observing him dump his wife’s body off a bridge near Incheon International Airport.

Hart felt his wife’s death was his fault, CID Special Agent Rocky Burson previously testified.

Culp said under the law, if the intent was assault but the result was death, it’s still involuntary manslaughter. “Maybe he exceeded the scope of self-defense,” Culp said. “Maj. Hart was protecting himself. He hit her too hard.”

But Capt. Demaris Johanek, one of the prosecuting attorneys, said two instances point to premeditation: Hart took a person from work to show him a route to Incheon International Airport, which prosecutors argued shows he was trying to find where to dump his wife’s body. Hart also told people that his wife was would be in South Korea only a few weeks — and a few weeks after she arrived, she was dead, Johanek said.

But, CID agents testified, Hart went on the route reconnaissance after his wife died — a move his attorney said was “stupid” but does not indicate premeditation.

The fatal blow came from years of conflict with his wife, Johanek said. “It’s become plain to everyone here … that this was not a happy family. In a normal family, husbands don’t dump their wife’s body over bridges.”

Earlier testimony from Hart’s 19-year-old daughter, Allison, showed the three family members physically fought and argued, sometimes resulting in injury. The daughter said her father had punched her in the nose and it was not uncommon for her parents to fight over mundane issues.

Patricia Hart learned her husband was having an affair with a Korean woman, Allison testified. The affair stressed the couple’s relationship but Patricia Hart did not want a divorce, opting instead to move to South Korea to be with her husband, the daughter testified.

Patricia Hart was described as an emotional woman not averse to starting conflicts. Hours before she died, testimony showed, the woman knocked on the door of an American neighbor’s apartment and argued over noise.

Patricia Hart’s medical records show “physical and mental difficulties lead her to lash out violently,” Culp said. But Johanek said every family has problems and there was no reason for Hart, a foot taller and 80 pounds heavier than his wife was, to assault her.

Earlier in the hearing, CID Special Agent Christopher May testified that he attempted to get a specific handwriting sample from Hart. May said it was needed to see if Hart may have forged documents purportedly indicating he was getting a divorce to show to the Korean woman. After Hart balked, his commanding officer ordered him to give a sample, which Hart refused. He has been charged with refusing to obey a direct order.

Hart also is charged with adultery and two counts each of obstructing justice and assault.

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