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RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — A Ramstein airman will stand trial later this year for his alleged role in the May 2008 death of his former friend and military colleague.

Airman 1st Class Juston Besaw will face a charge of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Airman 1st Class Zackery Allen, Air Force officials said Monday.

Third Air Force commander Lt. Gen. Frank Gorenc, the convening authority in the case, referred the case to a general court-martial, according to 3rd Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. David Honchul. The trial is tentatively scheduled to begin Dec. 1.

The details surrounding the case were presented at an Article 32 earlier this month at Ramstein.

Airman 1st Class Scott McCormack of the 86th Services Squadron said he was at an off-base apartment with Besaw and Allen when the two got into a fight that began when Besaw allegedly passed gas toward Allen. Slaps and pushes were exchanged, and the two started wrestling, knocking over a glass, according to McCormack’s testimony.

The three airmen were asked to leave, McCormack said, with Besaw and Allen ahead of McCormack. Shortly afterward, Allen was discovered lying outside on the ground unconscious, with Besaw standing nearby, McCormack said in court. McCormack did not witness what transpired but said he did hear a loud noise.

Besaw said “ ‘I only hit him once,’ ” McCormack testified. Allen, 20, never regained consciousness and died two days later at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, according to base officials.

The Air Force maintains that Besaw killed Allen with a punch to the head, officials said. The accused did not take the stand at the Article 32 hearing.

Besaw also will face a wrongful drug use charge for an incident that allegedly took place in spring 2008 in his dormitory room. Airman Tyson Schurtz said at the Article 32 hearing that he walked in on Besaw sniffing a white powder that he believed to be Percocet.

Allen and Besaw were assigned to the 721st Aerial Port Squadron at Ramstein, officials said.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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