Ronald Gray, a former U.S. Army soldier convicted of raping and killing several
women, could become the first person put to death by the military in a half-century.
U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten in Wichita, KS, recently denied Gray’s
request for a stay of execution.
Gray was stationed at Fort Bragg, NC when he was convicted in a series of rapes
The president will need to sign the execution warrant, something George W. Bush
did in 2008. That order was stayed when a subsequent appeal argued Gray had
ineffective counsel and lacked mental capacity to stand trial.
If Gray’s sentence is carried out, it will be the first military execution since 1961
when John Bennett was hanged for the rape and attempted murder of an Austrian
girl. The military’s current method of execution is lethal injection.
There are five other inmates on military death row:
- Dwight Loving, who was convicted of the 1988 killings taxi drivers Bobby Sharbino and Christopher Fay in Texas, while he was stationed at Fort Hood.
- Hasan Akbar killed two soldiers — Army Capt. Christopher S. Seifert and AirForce Maj. Gregory L. Stone — and injured 14 others in Kuwait in 2003.
- Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, opened fire in a room at Fort Hood,killing 13 people and injuring 31 others in 2009.
- Andrew Witt killed a fellow airman and his wife at Robins Air Force Base,GA in 2005.
- Timothy Hennis, a former Army E-8 at Fort Bragg, was convicted of the 1985 killing of a North Carolina mother and her two daughters
Note: We’ve visited a client years ago on Ft. Leavenworth’s Death Row. We had
to agree that their treatment appeared humane and comfortable.
70 YEAR WAIT FOR MEDALS
U.S Senator Charles Schumer is calling for the Army to award three long-overdue
service medals to an African-American World War II veteran from western New
Ninety-three-year-old George Watts served in an all-black unit stationed in the
South Pacific from 1943 to 1946. Upon his discharge, the Buffalo man was
supposed to receive three medals.
Watts never got the decorations, possibly due to racism.
REVISED RULES OF ENGAGEMENT?
President Trump’s defense staff is reportedly looking into loosening the rules of
engagement for troops fighting overseas.
The Trump team has asked for a list of restrictions, limitations, and other rules of
engagement governing U.S. troops overseas, according to an NPR report.
That includes rules on how close U.S. special operators can get to the fight in Iraq
and Syria and who they can target on the battlefield.
The President has expressed concern that current policies are weak. “We’re
sending leaflets down [saying] ‘in an hour we may be bombing your truck. Please
remove yourself from’ ….we don’t know what we’re doing,” Trump complained to
Fox News last year.
NEW VET OUTREACH ON DISCHARGES, RECORDS
Records for veterans who served after 1997 are usually accessible online and
retrievable within hours of a request through the Defense Personnel Records
Information Retrieval System (DPRIS). To obtain personnel records from DPRIS,
vets should go to https://www.dpris.dod.mil/, then select “Individual Veteran
Access” on the left side of the website and follow the instructions. Veterans will
need to register for a logon and verify their current mailing address. The process
usually takes less than 10 minutes.
Those who served prior to 1997 or for whom electronic records are not available,
can request their records from the National Personnel Records Center using the
eVetRecs website at: http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/.
The boards are authorized to grant relief on the basis of error and/or clemency.
Regarding clemency: Veterans who believe their post-service conduct and
contributions to society support an upgrade/correction should describe their “good
citizen” post-service conduct and provide appropriate letters or supporting data.
The press announcement suggests three keys to successful applications:
- Explain why the discharge or other record was unjust or erroneous — for example, how it is connected to, or resulted from unjust policies, a physicalor mental health condition related to military service, or some other explainable or justifiable circumstance.
- Provide factual support. If a veteran has a relevant medical diagnosis, for example, it would be very helpful to include medical records reflecting it.
- Submit pertinent service records. The more information provided, the better the boards can understand the circumstances of the discharge.
We are happy to make further information available to vets seeking discharge
upgrades or records corrections.
TRIAL TACTICS—MAYBE YOU CAN TRY BEING PUNNY
One “gimmick” is a well-placed pun — when appropriate, and provided it fits your
Some examples.—and remember, puns have to be “groaners””
1) … The punishment should fit the military crime. You know, like the
sergeant thief who stole a calendar? For stealing a calendar, he got twelve
2) … Pvt. Hammond didn’t steal it, he thought it was a gift— you know, like
batteries given out free of charge.
3)… It was a bad marriage. Like the dentist and a manicurist who married.
They fought tooth and nail.
4) … Marrying overseas was not a good idea for SSgt Hawkins. With her
marriage, all she got was a new name and a dress.
5)… LCpl Owen and Traci went to dinner at a restaurant in the shopping
center. Forgive me, but that wasn’t very romantic — when you’ve seen one
shopping center, you’ve seen a mall.
6)… Lt Johnson couldn’t do anymore to please Major Perse. He gave up.
Like a bicycle that can’t stand alone; it’s just two tired.
7)… Swanigan returned to the so-called scene of the crime. Like when a clock
is hungry— it goes back four seconds. …
8)….The accused got hurt. He is not like the guy who fell into an upholstery
machine and is now fully recovered.
9)….The accused is forgetful – some say he has a photographic memory
which was never developed.
10)… Sgt Romeo’s wife was getting older and a bit crotchety – when she saw
the first strands of grey hair she thought she’d dye.
Note: One dreadful pun, actually appeared in a BCD record when the
Military Defender was an appellate judge :
[Defense Counsel arguing at Minot AFB, ND]: Yes, the young airman was
attracted to Tina at the swimming pool. He came on to her, stroking her leg
and giving her a quick smooch. But it wasn’t criminal. He was like the
theme song from Casablanca. You know: A kiss is just a kiss…a thigh is
just a thigh ….”
As author judge, we responded, quoting further from Casablanca in a
decision NOT for publication : “Yes, but “the fundamental things of life
apply as time goes by.” This was groping a 13-year old, BCD affirmed.”