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Court-Martial Sought for Soldier in Slayings

A U.S. staff sergeant accused of killing two superiors in Iraq may face the death penalty.

November 02, 2005|From Associated Press

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait — A U.S. military investigating officer on Tuesday recommended a court-martial for a National Guard soldier charged with killing two of his superiors in Iraq and raised the possibility of a death sentence.

Staff Sgt. Alberto B. Martinez of Troy, N.Y., had a "personal vendetta" against one of two higher-ranking officers who died of wounds from a June 7 explosion on a U.S. base near Tikrit, north of Baghdad, military investigator Col. Patrick Reinert said at the end of a two-day hearing here.

Reinert said he found "reasonable cause" to believe that Martinez, 37, planted and detonated an antipersonnel mine in the window of a room used by Capt. Phillip Esposito, 30, of Suffern, N.Y., and Lt. Louis E. Allen, 34, of Milford, Pa., in a former palace of Saddam Hussein.

Three hand grenades were also allegedly used in the attack that killed the officers.

Reinert recommended that Martinez face a court-martial hearing and said he found aggravating factors that could allow for capital punishment if the case goes to a military tribunal.

Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, the commander of the coalition forces in Iraq, will decide whether there will be a court-martial and where to hold it.

Vines' decision is not expected for several weeks.

No clear motive was discussed in the hearing, but legal expert Maj. Matthew Ruzicka said Esposito had relieved Martinez of supply duties, and Martinez was afraid that the move would affect his civilian job back home.

Capt. Carl Prober, one of nine witnesses who testified in the investigative hearing Monday, said Martinez told him twice that he hated Esposito and was going to "frag" him.

Frag is a Vietnam War-era term for soldiers killing their superiors.

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