Two sailors face trials in killing of dental tech on Okinawa
June 20, 2005
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Two sailors accused of killing a fellow dental technician on Camp Hansen last February have waived their rights to preliminary hearings.
Seaman Robert L. Person Jr. of Turrell, Ark., and Seaman Tiffany Marie Brooks of Carthage, Miss., now face separate courts-martial in Keystone Judicial Circuit Court on Camp Foster, according to court officials. Both are charged with murder in the Feb. 2 stabbing death of Seaman Adam J. Palecco, 21.
They are also charged with larceny as members of what Marine investigators say was a shoplifting ring.
Person and Brooks are assigned to the U.S. Naval Dental Center on Camp Hansen, and Palecco was assigned to the Camp Hansen Dental Clinic.
Person’s case is slated to begin Tuesday with Brooks’ to follow the next week. According to court dockets, they are set to be tried by a military judge and are expected to plead guilty to the charges.
According to testimony last month at the preliminary hearing of a third person charged in the case, Marine Lance Cpl. Jesika Jenkins, Brooks, Person and a fourth suspect, Seaman Audley G. Evans II, assaulted Palecco the night of Feb. 2 in a parking lot on Camp Hansen. They allegedly slit his throat and stabbed him 17 times before dragging his body into a drainage tunnel, where it was found two days later.
At Jenkins’ hearing, Special Agent Michael Cole of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service said Palecco and the others were members of a shoplifting ring that targeted the exchange on Kadena Air Base. Palecco allegedly was killed because the alleged ringleader, Evans, believed he was about to inform on them, Cole testified.
Palecco, of Hackettstown, N.J., was to be tried for theft on the day his body was found. Cole said Palecco had been nearly decapitated and had his eye gouged out during the attack.
No trial date has been set for Jenkins, of Duval, Fla. Prosecutors said at her hearing that she did not take part in the murder, but may have had prior knowledge that her boyfriend, Evans, of Royal Palm Beach, Fla., intended to kill Palecco. She is charged with murder, failing to obey a lawful order, dereliction of duty, making false official statements, being an accessory after the fact, aiding and abetting, concealing evidence and receiving stolen merchandise.
According to Cole, another member of the ring who already had been found guilty of larceny passed word to Evans that Palecco was going to testify against him at his court-martial.
No trial date has been set for Evans. All four suspects charged are confined in the Joint Services Brig on Camp Hansen.