Private faces June trial in fatal stabbing of soldier
MANNHEIM, Germany — At his arraignment hearing Thursday, the soldier accused of killing Pfc. Valerie Gamboa declined to enter a plea or choose whether his fate will be decided by a panel of soldiers or by a lone judge.
Pfc. Mario Lesesne, accused of premeditated murder in Gamboa’s Jan. 21 stabbing death, will face a general court-martial, which is expected to begin June 11.
Lesesne, who also faces a charge of attempted murder and a charge of assault for allegedly attacking two people who tried to intervene in Gamboa’s stabbing, requested to keep his Army defense team of Capt. Joe Venghaus and Capt. Mark Vetter.
The death penalty is not on the table in this case, but premeditated murder in the military justice system carries a mandatory minimum penalty of life in prison, with the possibility of parole.
There was an uneasy moment in the courtroom after Capt. Ingolf Maurstad, representing the government, said the government’s charges against Lesesne included a charge of attempted premeditated murder.
“Your honor, that was not the defense’s understanding by looking at the charge sheet,” Venghaus said.
After a short exchange with the judge, Maurstad conceded the point.
At Lesesne’s Article 32 hearing in February, the defense did not dispute that Lesesne stabbed and killed Pfc. Valerie Gamboa, stabbed her roommate and fought with the roommate’s boyfriend who’d come to her aid.