Testimony wraps up in Article 32 hearing in Friedberg soldier's death
DARMSTADT, Germany — The final witnesses testified in hearings Tuesday to determine whether two 1st Armored Division soldiers should stand trial for the slaying of a fellow soldier.
All of Tuesday’s testimony was behind closed doors, as was much of the four-day Article 32 hearing for Pfc. Jonathan Schroeder and Pfc. Andrew Humiston — two infantrymen charged in the death of Pfc. Clint Lamebear.
On Nov. 16, a German man found the 18-year-old New Mexico native in a Frankfurt garage. The night before, Lamebear spent the evening drinking with comrades from the Friedberg-based 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment.
Their hearings were held jointly. The investigating officers, Maj. John Jones and Maj. Steve Patoir, must consider the evidence before making their recommendations on whether the soldiers will face a court-martial.
Master Sgt. David Melancon, a division spokesman, said he did not know when the recommendations would be made.
Two German police investigators, Ralf Loery and Frank Hermann, took the stand Tuesday, court officials said. Special Agent Lane Clopper, an Army investigator from Friedberg, also testified.
Hearings began last Wednesday on Pioneer Casern in Hanau. During the first three days, only a limited amount of testimony was open to the public. The case was moved to Darmstadt because a nonrelated court-martial began in Hanau, court officials said.
Open testimony last week included Dr. Hans Leukel, a German forensic expert from the University of Frankfurt medical clinic. Leukel, who examined Lamebear’s bludgeoned corpse, said the soldier suffered severe head injuries from blunt force trauma and drowned in his own blood. Lamebear was intoxicated at the time of his death, Leukel testified.
The Army also allowed the public to hear soldiers from 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment describe a night of binge drinking in Sachsenhausen, Frankfurt’s pub district. While soldiers recalled seeing Lamebear during the night, none recalled parting ways with him.
Other servicemembers said Schroeder and Humiston were together at a birthday party at an African-themed bar, a hangout popular among Americans. No one recalled where the accused later were that evening, when Lamebear met his fate.
Meanwhile, prosecutors stepped up contact with Lamebear’s family in New Mexico, his aunt Lynette Bonar said. Lamebear’s mother, Kristen June, speaks to Army lawyers after each day’s hearings, she said.
Army lawyers told the family that current hearings were closed to avoid pretrial publicity that may jeopardize a fair court-martial, Bonar said.
“They’ll have a harder time picking a jury,” Bonar said. “That makes sense to us. We want them to get a jury.”
Prosecutors also warned her sister about new reports of gory forensic evidence, Bonar said. During Lamebear’s funeral, his mother avoided seeing the wounds on his face. Still, June cried when she read of her son’s injuries, Bonar said.
“She just wants this to be over with,” Bonar said of her sister. “Once they get the soldiers prosecuted, it will help her with closure.”