05 July 2010

Yet Another Great Result!

SYNOPSIS OF CASE: SSG S. was charged with violating a no contact order in violation of Article 91 and with two specifications of aggravated sexual assault of a child in violation of Article 120, UCMJ. In December of 2006, SSG S. took leave to see N.T. SSG S. had known N.T. for three years and had developed a very close relationship with her despite the fact she was only 13 years old. Their relationship was with the approval of N.T.’s mother. During his visit, SSG S. began his sexual relationship with N.T. SSG S. told N.T. that he loved her and that he wanted to marry her. N.T. told SSG S. that she loved him and wanted to marry him too. Over the course of his visit, SSG S. engaged in sexual intercourse with N.T. on two separate occasions.

After visiting N.T. in December, SSG S. referred to N.T. as his fiancée. He told several members in his unit that he was engaged to be married, including SFC H., his superior noncommissioned officer. SSG S. told SFC H. that he was upset that he could not get married sooner to his fiancée. When SFC H. inquired as to why they could not get married, SSG S. told him that his fiancée was 14 years old and could not marry him legally until she turned 16. Based upon this statement, he issued a no contact order to SSG S. He told SSG S. that he was not supposed to have any additional contact with N.T. Shortly after the no contact order, SSG S. deployed to Iraq.

SSG S. returned from his deployment in March of 2008. He was then sent to Redstone Arsenal for the Basic Noncommissioned Officers Course, near his hometown and approximately two hours from N.T’s grandparents’ house, where she was staying. On the night of August 8, 2008, SSG S. drove to N.T.’s grandparents’ home to pick her up. In order to meet SSG S., N.T. had to sneak out of her bedroom window. The two drove around for a while before SSG Smith drove to a parking lot where they had sexual intercourse in the car. Afterwards, they drove to a nearby McDonald's to have dinner. After dinner, N.T. and SSG S. drove back to a parking lot to have sexual intercourse again with N.T. It was at this time that local law enforcement officer arrived in a marked police car. Upon discovering that the SSG S. was 31 and N.T. was 15, the officer arrested him.

SYNOPSIS OF RESULT: The government initially offered SSG S. a seven year sentence cap. Due to an intensive pretrial negotiation, the defense was able to secure a three year sentence cap. After putting on a strong sentencing case, the military judge sentenced SSG S. to be reduced to E-1 and to 12 months confinement. The military judge then recommended that the convening authority defer the confinement for 12 months and if no additional misconduct is done to disapprove the confinement in its entirety.

BEST GUESS FOR THE RESULT: A well thought out sentencing case that capitalized on every bit of mitigation evidence available in order to help persuade the military judge that SSG S. should be given a lenient sentence. First, the defense, over government objection, was allowed to use a confessional statement to supplement the stipulation of fact during the providence inquiry. The government and defense had a very difficult time agreeing on any of the facts. Consequently, the stipulation was rather bare bones. In order to give the military judge a more complete picture, the defense offered a confessional statement for use during the providence inquiry. The confessional statement was basically the defense’s desired version of the stipulation of fact complete with all of our mitigation evidence. During the sentencing case, the defense capitalized on several good soldier witnesses, including one via telephonic testimony. Finally, by spending several hours preparing SSG S., the defense was able to humanize him and his story. This effort resulted in the outstanding outcome at trial.

“Sticking it to the Man Since 1980”

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