The Army Blotter: Murder defendant drugged in court, Guardman's a "human smuggler," Hasan's risky defenses


Pfc. David “Smiley” Lawrence, the soldier accused of murdering a shackled Taliban commander, nodded off several times  during a hearing that will determine if the Army puts him on trial. His attorney says the 20-year-old Fort Carson, Colo., GI is strung out on drugs to battle schizophrenia and isn’t mentally fit to stand trial. Lawrence’s platoon sergeant testified Lawrence announced he would, “do something in the next 20 minutes that you are too pussy to do.” “He said, ‘I killed him,'” Staff Sgt. Dominic Buscemi, testified. “I said, ‘Killed who?’ and he said, ‘The guy in the cell.'” [via The Colorado Springs Gazette]

  • Four people, including a Portland firefighter and an Army National Guard member, were indicted in Texas on federal charges of smuggling illegal immigrants and money laundering. Prosecutors said Beatrice Rodriguez, 39, conspired to transport illegal immigrants from Mexico by car from 1993 to 2010. To mask their alleged crimes, she and others also allegedly structured withdrawals from a bank account they used to purchase property in Corpus Christi and Portland. [via The Caller Times]
  • Veteran military attorneys say they think a capital murder trial is a virtual certainty for Maj. Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist charged with killing 13 people and wounding 32 others last year in a rampage at Fort Hood. Hasan’s attorney John Galligan, with limited options, may try a risky strategy called a “naked plea,” in which Hasan admits guilt to head off the prosecution’s case and go directly to jury deliberations. Galligan could also go for an insanity plea or attack the chain of command for missing warnings. [via San Antonio Express-News]

  • A three-tour Army vet from Fort Knox, Ky., was sentenced in New York to 23 years in the shooting death of his estranged wife’s boyfriend in front of his children. Raymond Van Clief, a 28-year-old ammo supply sergeant, said he regretted killing the man but felt he and his children were threatened. Van Clief, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was on leave  to attend the funeral of an aunt when the shooting occurred. “I don’t think it’s the only thing you could have done but I do believe it’s the only thing you think you could have done,” the judge told him. [via Times-Union]
  • Army prosecutors are two-for-two so far in their attempts to win full court-martial trials for a dozen Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldiers accused of crimes in Afghanistan. Staff Sgt. David D. Bram will go to trial on allegations that he participated in roughing up a junior soldier who had notified authorities about drug use in their Stryker platoon. Bram, 27, of Vacaville, Calif., faces charges that he conspired to commit assault and battery, unlawfully struck another soldier, violated a lawful general order, was derelict in his duty and tried to impede an investigation. [via News-Tribune]
  • A Louisiana man has been indicted on a number of charges in connection with fraudulently claiming to redevelop a blighted apartment complex into a home for war veterans. [via Times-Picayune]

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