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Friday, April 18, 2014         

WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO ...


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Army medic has yet to face charges in death of worker


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Question: What punishment did the Schofield Barracks soldier receive for killing a civilian worker in Iraq in 2009? He was supposed to have been court-martialed last summer.

Answer: The court-martial for Spc. Beyshee O. Velez in the death of Lucas "Trent" Vinson of Leesville, La., an employee of Houston-based KBR, near Tikrit on Sept. 13, 2009, has been postponed until Feb. 14.

Meanwhile, the Army said a murder trial for Velez, a combat medic who has served three tours in Iraq, has also been postponed, but no date for that proceeding has been released. There was no reason given for the postponement.

Velez has been held at the brig on Ford Island since his return here.

KBR provides services including housing, meals, mail delivery and laundry.

Velez is charged with two counts of murder, one count of trying to elude Air Force security forces and three counts of assault. The Army said that although Velez has been charged with two different counts of murder, he can be convicted of only one of the murder specifications. That charge will be determined by the judge presiding over the court-martial.

Velez pleaded not guilty to the charges last April.

He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd "Bronco" Brigade Combat Team, when the shooting happened at Contingency Operating Base Speicher.

His defense attorney has argued that Velez was mentally unstable when he shot Vinson, 27, with his M-4 carbine.

An Army mental fitness board previously found that Velez had experienced a "short psychotic episode," but the board also determined that the soldier was fit to stand trial, according to Velez's civilian lawyer, Philip D. Cave.

The 3rd Brigade is slated to deploy to Afghanistan next month. Its 3,500 soldiers will be assigned to Kunar, Nuristan, Laghman and Nangarhar provinces on the border with Pakistan.

The Army has said murder carries a maximum sentence of a dishonorable discharge and life confinement. Assault with a deadly weapon carries a maximum sentence of dishonorable discharge and eight years' confinement. Fleeing apprehension carries a maximum sentence of a bad-conduct discharge and one year of confinement.

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This update was written by Gregg K. Kakesako. Write What Ever Happened To ..., Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 7-210, Honolulu 96813; call 529-4747; or e-mail cityeditors@staradvertiser.com.






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