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For Spc. Casey Kelly, the answer was: “Zzzz.”

Kelly, of 1st Battalion, 174th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, was convicted Thursday of dereliction of duty for sleeping at the wheel of his military police car. The commander of Army Garrison Stuttgart discovered the sleeping MP around midmorning on Oct. 9, and knocked several times on the car window in an attempt to wake him.

Kelly was fined a half-month’s pay, $941, and reduced in rank to private after the summary court-martial, held at the Stuttgart Law Center. But the reduction in rank was suspended, provided he doesn’t get in further trouble for 90 days.

The Ohio Army National Guardsman argued that he had just come off several months of night duty, working 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., and couldn’t stay awake on the first day of his new, daytime shift of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., especially since he was taking prescribed medication that made him drowsy.

“I felt it was physically impossible for me to stay awake,” Kelly testified. “I was told that if I was ever fatigued, to let someone know and go through the chain of command.”

He testified that he informed his supervisor prior to his shift that he was probably too tired to stay awake, and that he was on medication. Kelly said he was told to “suck it up.”

His defense was not enough to avoid a conviction, but might have helped with the sentence.

The judge, Capt. Norman Pollock of 95th Military Police Battalion, could have sentenced Kelly to 60 days’ confinement, fined him an additional $470, and made the reduction in rank unconditional.

Kelly chose to be tried by court-martial instead of within his unit through a nonjudicial Article 15 investigation.

The garrison commander, Col. Kenneth G. Juergens, testified that he noticed Kelly snoozing on the job in a parking lot, his seat reclined, shortly after driving through the main gate at Kelley Barracks.

“I noticed the MP car and looked in and saw the MP sleeping,” Juergens said. “The car was running and I pulled in behind him. I knocked on the window several times and he looked at me. I said, ‘Roll down the window.’”

But after Kelly put his head back and went back to sleep, Juergens said he phoned the chief of the Stuttgart provost marshal office, Arthur L. Richard. “I said, ‘Art, I got an MP here at Kelley Barracks who won’t roll down his window and won’t acknowledge me. That’s ridiculous.’”

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