Soldier fined, reduced in rank for hitting woman soon after his return from Iraq
July 24, 2006
MANNHEIM, Germany — Pfc. Kevin B. Miller was found guilty Friday of assaulting a German woman in a Mannheim-area club last December about 12 hours after he returned from a 12- month deployment to Iraq.
The eight-member panel sentenced Miller to a reduction in monthly pay by $250 for three months, hard labor without confinement for three months and reduction to the rank of E-2.
Prior to the court-martial, Miller, 22, of the 515th Transportation Company, pleaded guilty to indecent assault and making a false official statement.
Government counsel asked the panel to sentence Miller to a bad-conduct discharge and 24 months’ confinement. Miller’s defense counsel requested that Miller be allowed to stay in the Army and serve no more than three months in confinement.
The charges stem from a Dec. 3, 2005, incident at a dance club near Mannheim that left a German woman with a nose broken in four places and a broken bone under her left eye.
Two German women were walking through the hip-hop room at the club when Miller grabbed one of them between the legs. The 19-year-old woman told Miller to stop in both German and English, but moments later he did it again. For grabbing the woman, Miller pleaded guilty to the indecent assault charge.
Government counsel, supported by testimony from the two German women, contended that the German woman grabbed by Miller pushed him hard. At that point, Miller punched her in the left eye. Her friend tried to intervene but was punched twice and kicked twice by Miller, government counsel said. Miller was found not guilty of assaulting that woman.
Miller eventually got a hold of the German woman he initially grabbed and punched her three more times in the face before stomping on her face.
Miller “savagely beat” the two German women, said Capt. James McInerney, lead government counsel. “The accused is a man who would not take ‘no’ for an answer,” McInerney said.
Miller’s defense counsel, led by Capt. Douglas Moore, said Miller threw and landed only one punch to the woman he initially grabbed. Miller did so only in self-defense. Doctors who treated the woman testified Thursday that her injuries could have been the result of one punch or multiple punches.
According to defense counsel and witnesses, after Miller grabbed the then-19-year-old between the legs, she slapped him. As the women came toward Miller, he pushed them away until one approached him with a bottle or glass object, defense witnesses said.
“Instead of getting hit by the bottle over the head, [Miller] makes a split-second decision and punches her,” said Capt. Michael Fritz, defense co-counsel.
Legally, Miller’s self-defense argument could stand up only if he believed he was about to be inflicted with grievous bodily harm or death.
“What you have to believe is this soldier — combat-trained and just back from Iraq — was afraid of a teenage girl,” McInerney said.
While everyone was sorry about the woman’s pain, the panel should not be swayed by the woman’s wounds in making its decision, Fritz said. “Don’t let the severity of the injuries she had cloud the truth,” he said.