Ramstein airman to be tried in gang-related beating death of soldier
January 16, 2008
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Ramstein Air Base Airman Nicholas A. Sims will face a court-martial for the 2005 gang-related beating death of Army Sgt. Juwan Johnson, a base official said Tuesday.
Sims, of Ramstein’s 86th Maintenance Squadron, will face charges of manslaughter, aggravated assault and failure to obey an order. Since December, Sims has been held in pretrial confinement at the U.S. Army Confinement Facility-Europe in Mannheim.
The date of Sims’ court-martial has not been set, but it could take place around the end of March or early April, said Petra Day, 435th Air Base Wing spokeswoman. A determination has not been made as to whether Sims will face a general court-martial or a special court-martial, Day said.
Sims’ charges stem from his alleged participation in the Gangster Disciples and the July 3, 2005, beating of Johnson. On the morning of July 4, 2005, Johnson was found dead in his barracks room, and his cause of death was later determined to be multiple blunt force injuries.
Sims, who at the time of Johnson’s death was a staff sergeant, is alleged to be one of nine current or former Kaiserslautern- area servicemembers who beat Johnson for six minutes during a Gangster Disciples initiation.
In the summer of 2007, two Kaiserslautern soldiers were convicted and sentenced to jail time for their roles in Johnson’s death. A third soldier was found not guilty in the matter.
An Article 32 hearing for Sims occurred on Ramstein in December 2007. Air Force Staff Sgt. Themitrios Saroglou, an alleged eyewitness to Johnson’s beating, testified at the Article 32 that Sims hit Johnson more than 30 times, including a few kicks.
Sims is the first servicemember charged in Johnson’s death to serve pretrial confinement. The Kaiserslautern soldiers who faced charges — including murder — in Johnson’s death were under the watch of an escort at hearings and were not in handcuffs. The accused soldiers walked freely to and from a nearby shoppette during breaks in their proceedings. However, Sims arrived to his Article 32 hearing in December in handcuffs and shackles, and he was escorted by at least two guards.