Telephone testimony ends in hang-up during Article 32 hearing at Mannheim
MANNHEIM, Germany — Army Spc. Samuel Bell took the drug Ecstasy roughly 30 times this summer, according to testimony Thursday from a soldier’s fiancee who shared an off-post residence with soldiers in Baumholder.
Stephanie Bowman testified via phone Thursday from Pennsylvania during Bell’s Article 32 hearing, which took place at the U.S. Army Confinement Facility-Europe in Mannheim.
Bell faces a litany of charges in connection with a miniature crime wave this summer that involved robbery, violence and drug use, culminating in a fire that caused $1.5 million in damage to the Baumholder Rathaus. Bell is one of nine soldiers facing charges.
Bowman testified Thursday that she never saw Bell buy Ecstasy, but she did see him take Ecstasy pills about 30 times.
Defense attorney Capt. Justin Evison asked Bowman, who was giving her testimony around 5:30 a.m. EST, how many times she had seen Bell take hallucinogenic mushrooms. After Bowman said she saw Bell take mushrooms once, Evison noted that in a previous statement Bowman never said she saw Bell take mushrooms.
“That was a while ago,” she said. “I probably forgot. Jeez.”
“So did you see Specialist Bell take mushrooms?” Evison asked.
“Umm, yes,” said Bowman, sounding irritated. “I was there.”
When questioned about additional inconsistencies in her previous statements and testimony provided Thursday, Bowman hung up on Evison. Subsequent calls placed to Bowman went unanswered.
Evison said he might contact her again if needed.
Other information revealed Thursday could possibly be beneficial to Bell. On the charge of conspiring to commit robbery for robbing a taxi driver, Bell’s picture was not identified in a photographic lineup presented to Helmut Jung, the taxi driver who was attacked. Agents with the Criminal Investigation Command, or CID, gave Jung a compilation of six photos shown to him three times. Jung did not recognize Bell from the photos.
The defense also argued that CID agents should not have questioned Bell when he was initially brought into custody this summer because Bell had requested an attorney. Once a suspect asks for an attorney, CID agents should stop questioning, turn over the suspect to command and then the person can speak to a lawyer.
Sgt. Andres Herrera, who watched over Bell in a Baumholder holding cell this summer, testified via telephone from downrange that, at first, Bell did not want to talk to the CID agent.
“Then he just decided, ‘Hey, I will talk to him. I want to talk to the CID agent,’ ” Herrera said.
But CID committed “a grave wrong” by questioning Bell after he requested a lawyer, Evison said.
Article 32 hearings are used to determine if a reasonable basis exists for the charges against a suspect. The hearings consider whether the evidence is sufficient to proceed to a trial. With the Article 32 hearing now concluded, Capt. Daniel Sennott, the investigating officer, will make a recommendation on how to proceed with charges facing Bell.