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KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — The soldier charged with murdering Sgt. Juwan Johnson in July 2005 is not being held in pretrial confinement but rather is with his unit in Kaiserslautern.

In civilian cases, suspects charged with murder typically must post thousands of dollars to be released from custody prior to legal proceedings, if they are granted bond at all.

“Under the circumstances, the unit commander of the accused soldier has taken the appropriate and necessary actions in relation to secure the accused,” said Maj. Allen Hing, 21st Theater Support Command public affairs officer.

At the request of the Army, Stars and Stripes agreed not to publish the names of the accused soldier and the military lawyers involved for fear of their safety and to refrain from jeopardizing the integrity of the investigation.

The defendant’s pass privileges have been modified, and a no-contact statement — the equivalent of a restraining order against certain individuals — has been entered as part of administrative controls against the accused, Hing said. The fact that the accused soldier has not fled during the 17-month investigation played a role in the decision not to confine him, Hing said.

“The rules for court-martial No. 305 require that less serious forms of restraint must always be considered before pretrial confinement may be approved,” he said. “Some of those options are exactly what has been applied to the accused.”

The accused soldier’s Article 32 hearing begins Tuesday. An Article 32 hearing is held in open court and is equivalent to a civilian grand jury, and in part is used to determine whether enough evidence exists to proceed to a court-martial.

Some soldiers facing charges much less severe than murder have been held in pretrial confinement prior to Article 32 hearings, including Spc. Samuel Bell. Bell was accused and convicted of robbing a taxi driver and using drugs during the summer of 2005 in Baumholder. A portion of Bell’s Article 32 hearing was conducted last December at the U.S. Army Confinement Facility-Europe in Mannheim.

Johnson, 25, a soldier with the 66th Transportation Company, was beaten to death in a gang-initiation ceremony and found dead in his Kaiserslautern barracks on July 4, 2005, according to Army documents. Media reports have stated that Johnson may have been trying to join a Chicago-based gang known as the Disciples.

As many as eight servicemembers have been identified as suspects in the murder, according to Army documents. Those other suspects are still serving with their units, Hing said. So far, the only person charged in the ongoing 17-month investigation is the soldier with the Article 32 hearing next week.


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