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NAPLES, Italy — A Navy petty officer convicted of assaulting his wife will lose his job, but get to stay in the Navy after a five-officer jury sentenced him Friday to 89 days’ confinement and reduction to E-4.

Petty Officer 1st Class Charles Flanning, 34, a master-at-arms stationed in Naples, hugged his wife and cried on her shoulder in the courtroom after the jury read its verdict, which ended the weeklong general-court martial. Any jail sentence of 90 days or more would have automatically bumped Flanning down to the E-1 pay grade.

Thursday, the jury convicted Flanning 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.

The defense had argued he was not guilty by reason of insanity because Flanning’s four months in Iraq traumatized him so much that he temporarily went insane the night he assaulted his wife. The military judge, Capt. David White, had instructed the jury that if it found Flanning guilty, there was no reason for its members to consider the insanity plea.

Flanning, who is a dog handler for the Navy and a 12-year veteran, had faced a maximum punishment of six months in jail, reduction to E-1, a bad-conduct discharge, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.

He no longer will be able to serve as a master-at-arms because anyone serving in the Navy who is convicted of an assault charge is prohibited from carrying a weapon.

On Thursday, Flanning’s wife, Petty Officer 2nd Class Demetria Lomax-Flanning, testified that she was a reluctant witness for the prosecution and that she is open to the possibility for the couple to work on their marriage.

Charles Flanning’s fate now rests with the convening authority, Capt. Floyd Hehe, commanding officer of Naval Support Activity Naples, Italy. Flanning’s civilian defense attorney, Guy Womack, said the defense planned to file an appeal with Hehe to at least defer Flanning’s jail sentence until Hehe decides whether to impose the jury’s sentence.

The jury began its deliberations much later than anticipated on Friday. Womack, who hails from Houston, fell victim Friday morning to a prevalent carjacking scam in Naples, one in which thieves lure unsuspecting drivers from their cars by making them think they ran over something or were involved in a collision.

The strategy gets drivers to stop and get out of their car — usually inadvertently leaving the keys in a running car — and thieves hop in and take off with the vehicle.

Womack was not injured in the incident.

The judge apologized to the jury for the “series of Neapolitan delays,” he said, drawing chuckles from the courtroom.


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