Friday, May 6, 2011

Article 32 Set for Holloman Airman Accused of Killing Roommate

A Holloman AFB airman who is alleged to have shot and killed his roommate, another airman, last year faces an Article 32 pretrial hearing later this month.  It appears the Air Force charged the case in a manner that covered all possible alternatives:

Wilhelm faces one charge and one specification of an inherently dangerous act of murder under article 118 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice; one charge and one specification of manslaughter under article 119 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice; and one charge and one specification of negligent homicide under article 134 of the UCMJ.

A1C Erik M. Wilhelm is not in pretrial confinement, which is telling.  Although the military rarely places individuals in pretrial confinement, the vast majority of military members facing murder charges under the UCMJ still find themselves behind bars before trial.  Quoting "Special Assistant US Attorney" Dean W. Korsak (aka a base trial counsel aka a JAG--he's not acting in is civilian capacity here), the article provides some explanation for the lack of pretrial confinement based on speedy trial concerns: The military is required to bring someone to trial in 120 days if they're confined or from peripheral (sic) of charges. But speedy trial rules apply to all murder cases, so I'm still puzzled by the lack of pretrial confinement.

I realize that journalists aren't lawyers, much less familiar with military law jargon, but this phrase really made me cringe:
The General Court Marshal Convening Authority will then decide what peripherad charge will go to a court marshal on the recommendation...
Sending a draft of your copy to the speaker quoted could go a long way towards resolving these errors.