Marine NCO set to be tried in homicide case
September 15, 2008
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — A court-martial is scheduled to begin Monday for a Marine sergeant accused of killing his 6-year-old daughter in October.
Sgt. Bassa Cisse, 34, is assigned to Marine Wing Communications Squadron 18, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.
During a preliminary hearing in December, the prosecution contended Cisse grew so frustrated with his daughter’s behavior Oct. 21 that he struck her several times with his hands, shoved her and then stomped on her back in the family’s Camp Foster tower apartment.
A doctor who performed her autopsy declared Naffy Cisse’s death a homicide. During the December hearing, the doctor testified that the girl had a fractured skull and significant bleeding and swelling of her brain.
Other wounds included several liver lacerations, a ruptured bladder and internal bleeding, the doctor said. She died in the U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa on Camp Lester on Oct. 22, never regaining consciousness.
She died less than a week after her sixth birthday. Her father had been embroiled in a bitter custody battle, according to testimony at the preliminary hearing, and he had had custody of her for just six weeks.
Prosecutor Maj. Gregory Palmer argued that Cisse, a former school teacher, was disappointed with his daughter’s slow progress in school and adapting to her new life.
The defense countered that he was a stern disciplinarian who admitted hitting the girl. But his actions did not merit a charge of murder, Lt. Col. David Jones, Cisse’s lead attorney argued at the hearing.