Friday, April 15, 2011

Soldier Sentenced for Death of Contractor in Iraq

The Hawaii Reporter has this article about an Army specialist's court-martial for the death of a civilian contractor:

Velez Case Trial Held at Wheeler Army Airfield

General court-martial proceedings concluded in the case of U.S. v. SPC Beyshee Velez. Trial was April 12th and 13th with the sentencing phase beginning on April 13th. The trial was held at the Wheeler Army Airfield Court Room.

Specialist Beyshee Velez, of Cleveland, Ohio was charged in September of 2009 with fleeing apprehension, reckless homicide, and aggravated assault of three men.

Pursuant to his pleas, Specialist Velez was found guilty for the murder of Lucas T. Vinson on September 13, 2009, at Contingency Operating Base (COB) Speicher, Iraq, by recklessly pointing his loaded M4 carbine at Mr. Vinson who died when the weapon discharged. Mr. Vinson was a Kellogg Brown and Root contractor working at the base in Iraq at the time. Mr. Vinson’s father and uncle were also employed by KBR at COB Speicher.

Specialist Velez was also found guilty of assaulting three other contractors by pointing a loaded weapon at them, and of fleeing apprehension by authorities.
The presiding military judge, LTC Kwasi L. Hawks, sentenced Specialist Velez to 26 years, reduction to the lowest enlisted grade, total forfeitures and a dishonorable discharge.

Specialist Velez is currently confined at the Naval Brig Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, but will be remanded to the United States Army Corrections Command.
The General Court Martial Convening Authority is Major General Bernard S. Champoux, Commander, 25th Infantry Division, based at Schofield Barracks. He referred the charges to a general court-martial after a thorough and complete investigation was conducted in accordance with Article 32 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

NIMJ's own Phil Cave represented Velez.  The military judge in this case has presided over most of the 5th Stryker Brigade "Kill Team" cases also.