No charges yet for seven troops in beating death
September 30, 2007
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Of the 10 people implicated by an eyewitness in the 2005 beating death of Army Sgt. Juwan Johnson, only two have stood trial. A third faces a court-martial that begins this week.
Army Staff Sgt. Alre Hudson could spend 14 years in jail if convicted of the four charges against him in Johnson’s death. Hudson’s trial starts Monday morning in Kaiserslautern.
This summer, two soldiers — Army Pvt. Terrence Norman and Army Sgt. Rodney Howell — were convicted and sentenced to confinement for their roles.
None of the seven others who Army Pvt. Latisha Ellis testified were either present for or participated in the beating currently face charges.
Johnson was found dead July 4, 2005, in his Kaiserslautern barracks after being beaten during an initiation into the Gangster Disciples. All but one of the seven men currently not charged hit Johnson more than 20 times during the six-minute beating, Ellis testified.
Army Spc. Bobby Morrissette, now with the 1st Cargo Transfer Company in Grafenwöhr, was the first soldier charged with murder in Johnson’s death, but is not facing any charges now. On May 30, a military judge disqualified 21st Theater Sustainment Command prosecutors from the case in an abundance of caution over legal questions surrounding statement Morrissette made under immunity. All charges were dismissed, though the Joint Multinational Training Command could charge Morrissette in the future.
Former Army Pfc. Michael Duncan left the Army before Ellis implicated him. Whether the Army can prosecute Duncan depends on a variety of factors, including if he is subject to recall.
Former Army Pfc. Arthur Newell is in much the same situation.
Former Air Force member Rico Williams’ whereabouts are unknown. He was the self-proclaimed governor of the local Gangster Disciples and was the first person to punch Johnson during the initiation beating, Ellis testified. Williams was no longer in the Air Force and fled Germany after Johnson died, Ellis testified.
Air Force Airman Nicholas Sims with the 86th Maintenance Squadron at Ramstein Air Base was identified as Williams’ right-hand man by Ellis. The Air Force Office of Special Investigations is completing its investigation of Sims, according to Darlene Cowsert, a 435th Air Base Wing spokeswoman.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Jerome Jones, now assigned to the 314th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., was identified by Ellis as one of the men who beat Johnson. No official charges have been filed against Jones at Little Rock Air Force Base, and the legal office there is not involved in the Johnson case, according to Kenneth Williams of the 314th’s public affairs office.
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Themitrios Saroglou now is assigned to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Saroglou served as the timekeeper while the other men beat Johnson, Ellis testified. The case is under investigation, according to Tech. Sgt. Brian Jones with the 96th Air Base Wing public affairs office at Eglin.
Norman was sentenced in July to 12 years’ confinement and a dishonorable discharge for his part in the fatal beating. He was sentenced on charges of involuntary manslaughter and conspiring to violate the Army regulation on hazing.
Howell was sentenced in July to six years in jail and a dishonorable discharge. A military judge found Howell guilty of involuntary manslaughter, violating an Army regulation on hazing, conspiring to violate the Army regulation on hazing, and making a false official statement.
Howell also was convicted for his own 2004 initiation into the Gangster Disciples, which took place when Kaiserslautern’s 66th Transportation Company was deployed to Tikrit, Iraq.