Wednesday, April 13, 2011

15 Months Confinement for Airman in Vehicle Deaths

As we noted earlier, Spangdahlem AB A1C Alan Lindgren faced a court-martial for the deaths of 2 fellow airmen who were passengers in a speeding car Lindgren drove.  Lindgren chose a judge-alone forum and pled not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and illegal use of a form of synthetic marijuana known as spice.  Going "judge alone" proved to be a smart move for Lindgren.  Col Dawn Eflein, formerly the chief trial judge for the entire Air Force (and a brand-new judge when I appeared in front of her as a defense counsel in the Pacific several years ago), found Lindgren guilty of the lesser-included offense of negligent homicide and found him not guilty of the spice use.  Eflein sentenced Lindgren to 15 months in confinement and a 1-stripe reduction.  From the Air Force Times article, it appears the military judge did not adjudge a punitive discharge.  Anyone who can clarify the sentence, please write to mmccluer@wcl.american.edu

On a side note, Col Eflein received a bit of press recently after she adjudged a sentence of life without parole for a child sex offender.  When I received questions about that sentence, some queries intimated that Eflein might have meted out unfairly harsh punishment in that case.  Not knowing much about the details of the case at that point, I responded that I knew Col Eflein to be a fair judge who had learned from the best (Col Dave Brash), so she must have found that the accused in the child rapist case had no redemptive qualities.  In fact, the Judge Advocates Assocation awarded Judge Eflein its Major General William K. Suter Distinguished Judicial Service Award last year.  Another interesting point that many might not know is that Col Eflein began her Air Force career as a mental health nurse. 

As last week's case from Spangdahlem reinforces, Col Eflein is not a "hang-em-high, one-sentence-fits-all" kind of judge.