European edition, Tuesday, May 8, 2007

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Two witnesses testified Monday that Army Staff Sgt. Alre L. Hudson was present at the July 3, 2005, gang initiation ceremony of Sgt. Juwan Johnson.

The testimony came during the first day of Hudson’s Article 32 hearing in relation to Johnson’s death on July 4, 2005, from multiple blunt force injuries after an alleged jumping-in ceremony into the Gangster Disciples.

Hudson, 41, faces four charges in connection with Johnson’s death: involuntary manslaughter, hazing, aggravated assault and conspiracy to violate Army policy on hazing.

Spc. Terance Pope testified Monday that Spc. Bobby Morrissette, his former friend and neighbor, confided in him in the early morning hours of July 4, 2005. Morrissette told Pope that Hudson, others and himself were at Johnson’s initiation ceremony, and that they felt as if they went too far in beating Johnson and thought they killed him, Pope testified.

However under cross-examination from David Court, Hudson’s civilian defense attorney, Pope acknowledged that based on nearly four years of friendship with Morrissette, he did not think Morrissette was a truthful person.

Pvt. Florentino Charris testified via video teleconference that he knew Hudson was at Johnson’s initiation. In an Aug. 10, 2005, statement to investigators, Charris identified Hudson by his nickname of “Ray” and stated that “Ray” was at Johnson’s jumping in ceremony.

Court pressed Charris on how he came to know that “Ray” was present at Johnson’s beating. Charris answered that Hudson never told him he was a Gangster Disciple and that Hudson never said he beat Johnson. Then, Charris admitted that no one told him Hudson attended Johnson’s beating.

Criminal Investigation Command Special Agent Louis Garcia, the lead agent in the Johnson investigation, acknowledged under questioning that there was no physical evidence or evidence collected from wiretaps that connected Hudson to Johnson’s death.

The hearing was scheduled to continue Tuesday.

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