Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Okinawa Marine’s conviction for attempted suicide overturned

Tuesday Apr 30, 2013

Okinawa Marine’s conviction for attempted suicide overturned

The U.S. military’s highest appeals court on Monday rejected the conviction of an Okinawa Marine for attempting suicide, but the decision may fall short of setting a precedent for all such prosecutions.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces ruled that Pvt. Lazzaric Caldwell was improperly charged and convicted of disrupting order and discrediting the Marine Corps after he slashed his wrists in his Camp Schwab barracks in 2010. Caldwell, who had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder unrelated to combat, was confined to the brig for six months and received a bad-conduct discharge.

The Marine’s prosecution raised concerns at a time when the military is emerging from over a decade of wars and struggling with high rates of PTSD and suicide in the ranks. However, Caldwell defense attorney Lt. Mike Hanzel said the appeals court decision was specific to the case and does not prevent prosecution of other suicides by the military.

“They decided in Pvt. Caldwell’s favor but on more narrow grounds than they could have,” Hanzel said.

A court martial and lower appeals court accepted Caldwell’s initial guilty plea and found that he had disrupted other Marines in his unit who gave emergency care and had brought discredit on the service through the attempted suicide. The defense argued that Caldwell suffered from PTSD, depression and brain seizures, and was wrongly allowed to plead guilty and convicted without a psychological evaluation.

In its decision released Monday, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces found that exposing a fellow gunnery sergeant and corpsman to his blood and the unit’s use of medical supplies for treatment was not enough to prove Caldwell’s suicide affected good order and discipline in the Marine Corps, despite the prior conviction and rulings. Stars and Stripes


Nearly 130,000 U.S. troops have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, and vastly more have experienced brain injuries. Wired

Over 1,700 have undergone life-changing limb amputations. Over 50,000 have been wounded in action. As of Wednesday, 6,656 U.S. troops and Defense Department civilians have died. Wired

Marine Corps Air Station Futenma will not be closed and relocated farther north on Okinawa until at least 2019, newly filed Japanese construction documents indicate. Stars and Stripes

A new Congressional report details the rising costs of keeping massive U.S. bases overseas at a time when the Pentagon is looking to reduce its footprint in many of those countries. AP

The Americans have about 50,000 troops in Japan, about half stationed on Okinawa. The cost is estimated at $2 billion in non-personnel costs for the U.S. AP


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why are all these Americans in Japan?? Bring them home!