Airmen, Stop Going Judge Alone in Drug Cases - Air Force Court-Martial Results for February 2017

Airmen, Stop Going Judge Alone in Drug Cases - Air Force Court-Martial Results for February 2017

The Air Force has published their court-martial results for February 2017. The Air Force arranges it's data broken down by general courts-martial and special courts-martial. The data is interesting and makes me question it's accuracy. In 33 cases, according to the reporting there was not a single mixed verdict (guilty and not guilty findings).

Categorizing mixed verdicts is challenging. Should this blog count them as guilty findings or acquittals - or both. In terms of Air Force reporting, they are either leaving out details OR Air Force judges and juries are fully convicting or fully acquitting in all cases. If either is true, that would certainly warrant further inquiry. I'll be keeping my eye on the Air Force data monthly.

February was a rough month for Air Force Area Defense Counsels. Both convictions and sentences trended higher for the month. It's difficult to say why the data as a whole was trending higher. The general court-martial case reports all appear to reflect very serious cases.

The special court-martial data was fairly consistent with past months. Air Force special courts consist primarily of drug cases. It is a mystery to me why Area Defense Counsel - consistently - go judge alone in contested drug cases. It's fairly consistent across months.

In February, the one acquittal in a drug case came from a panel. It appears that 9 out of 10 cases were judge alone. The only panel case was an acquittal. Having said that, several of the cases were distribution cases. Drug distribution cases can - depending on the level of distribution - have aggravating facts.

The only real merit in going judge alone is predictability of sentence. Judges appear to find people guilty in the Air Force 100% of the time in drug cases. The value is that the sentences were predictable. The single use cases trended around 30 days confinement. There were a few that trended upwards of 45 days.

The breakdown is as follows:

Total Trials: 33

General Courts: 16 (48%)

  • GCM Judge Alone Trials: 9 (56%)
  • GCM Jury Trials: 7 (43%)
  • GCM Guilty Pleas: 8 (50%)
  • GCM Convictions: 14 (87%)
  • GCM Acquittals: 2 (13%)
  • GCM Acquittals in Contested Jury Trials: (28%)
  • GCM Acquittals in Judge Alone Trial: 0
  • GCM Adult Sexual Assault Cases: 7 (43%)
  • GCM Adult Sexual Assault Pleas: 2 (15%)
  • GCM Adult Sexual Assault Acquittals: 2 (15%)
  • GCM Adult Sexual Assault Contested Case Convictions: 3 (60%)

Special Courts: 17 (52%)

  • SPCM Convictions: 13 (76%)
  • SPCM Acquittals: 4 (24%)
  • Drug Cases: 10
  • Drug Acquittals: 1 (10%)
General Court-Martial Convictions
  • 1. At Whiteman AFB, MO, Airman First Class Joshua I. Benfield was found guilty by military judge alone of sexual assault and assault consummated by battery. He was sentenced to a dishonorable discharge, confinement for 12 years, reduction to Airman Basic (E-1), and total forfeitures. Pursuant to a pretrial agreement, the convening authority will not approve confinement in excess of 10 years.
  • 2. At Eglin AFB, FL, Master Sergeant Richard D. Collins was found guilty by officer and enlisted members of rape. He was sentenced to a dishonorable discharge, confinement for 16 years and six months, reduction to Airman Basic (E-1), and total forfeitures.
  • 3. At Whiteman AFB, MO, Staff Sergeant Hollie K. Darling was found guilty by officer members of wrongful use and possession of controlled substances, failure to go, failure to obey lawful orders, and negligent dereliction of duty. She was sentenced to confinement for 179 days, reduction to Airman (E-2), forfeiture of $800 pay per month for five months, and a reprimand.
  • 4. At Travis AFB, CA, Senior Airman Veda E. Hart was found guilty by military judge alone of wrongful use of controlled substances and larceny of military property valued under $500. He was sentenced by officer members to confinement for one year, reduction to Airman Basic (E-1), forfeiture of $500 pay, and a reprimand. The pretrial agreement had no effect on the adjudged sentence.
  • 5. At JB Elmendorf-Richardson, AK, Senior Airman Nicholas K. Hess was found guilty by military judge alone of wrongfully importing controlled substances into the United States and attempting to wrongfully possess with intent to distribute controlled substances. He was sentenced to a bad-conduct discharge, confinement for two months, hard labor without confinement for 60 days, reduction to Airman Basic (E-1), and a reprimand. The pretrial agreement had no effect on the adjudged sentence.
  • 6. At Fairchild AFB, WA, Technical Sergeant Nicholas E. Hollingsworth was found guilty by military judge alone of conspiracy to commit larceny of property valued over $500, attempt to commit larceny of property valued over $500, and false official statement. He was sentenced to a bad-conduct discharge, confinement for seven months, reduction to Airman Basic (E-1), and a reprimand. The pretrial agreement had no effect on the adjudged sentence.
  • 7. At JB San Antonio-Lackland, TX, Technical Sergeant Anthony R. Lizana was found guilty by an officer and enlisted members of sexual assault, assault consummated by battery, willful and negligent dereliction of duty, adultery, and providing alcohol to underage persons. He was sentenced to a dishonorable discharge, confinement for three months, hard labor without confinement for 30 days, reduction to Airman First Class (E-3), and forfeiture of $450 pay.
  • 8. At Keesler AFB, MS, Staff Sergeant James A. McGriff II was found guilty by military judge alone of sodomy of a child, sexual abuse of a child, and enticing a child to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of such conduct. He was sentenced to a dishonorable discharge, confinement for 12 years, and reduction to Airman Basic (E-1). The pretrial agreement had no effect on the adjudged sentence.
  • 9. At JB Lewis-McChord, WA, Staff Sergeant Brandon N. Myers was found guilty by military judge alone of attempted sexual abuse of a child. He was sentenced to a dishonorable discharge, confinement for eight months, reduction to Airman Basic (E-1), and total forfeitures. The pretrial agreement had no effect on the adjudged sentence.
  • 10. At Edwards AFB, CA, Airman First Class Joshua A. Nabarrette was found guilty by military judge alone of possessing child pornography and larceny of property valued under $500. He was sentenced to a bad-conduct discharge, confinement for 25 months, reduction to Airman Basic (E-1), total forfeitures, and a reprimand. Pursuant to a pretrial agreement, the convening authority will not approve confinement in excess of 15 months.
  • 11. At Hurlburt AFB, FL, Senior Airman Jarek P. Paulett was found guilty by an officer and enlisted members of sexual assault. He was sentenced to a dishonorable discharge, confinement for three years and six months, and reduction to Airman Basic (E-1).
  • 12. At Buckley AFB, CO, Airman First Class William T. Slaunwhite was found guilty by military judge alone of assault consummated by battery and communicating a threat. He was sentenced to a bad-conduct discharge, confinement for 18 months, reduction to Airman Basic (E-1), and total forfeitures.
  • 13. At Osan AB, Korea, Senior Airman Gabriel C. Villanueva was found guilty by military judge alone of abusive sexual contact, assault consummated by battery, and attempted sexual assault. He was sentenced to a dishonorable discharge, confinement for 10 years, reduction to Airman Basic (E-1), and total forfeitures. Pursuant to a pretrial agreement, the convening authority will not approve confinement in excess of six years.
  • 14. At Robins AFB, GA, Airman First Class Charles A. Wilson III was found guilty by an officer and enlisted members of premeditated murder and death of an unborn child. He was sentenced to a dishonorable discharge, confinement for life without eligibility of parole, reduction to
  • Airman Basic (E-1), total forfeitures, and a reprimand.
  • General Court-Martial Acquittals
  • 15. At Kunsan AB, Korea, an enlisted Airman was acquitted by an officer and enlisted members of abusive sexual contact.
  • 16. At Ramstein AB, Germany, an enlisted Airman was acquitted by an officer and enlisted members of sexual assault.

Special Court-Martial Convictions
  • 17. At Andersen AFB, Guam, Staff Sergeant Marko Angelo G. Antonio was found guilty by military judge of wrongful use of a controlled substance and wrongful possession of drug paraphernalia. He was sentenced by officer members to hard labor without confinement for two months, reduction to Airman First Class (E-3), and forfeiture of $500 pay per month for four months.
  • 18. At Holloman AFB, NM, Senior Airman Sean T. Arcadi was found guilty by military judge alone of wrongful manufacture and use of controlled substances. He was sentenced to confinement for six months and reduction to Airman Basic (E-1). Pursuant to a pretrial agreement, the convening authority will not approve confinement in excess of three months.
  • 19. At McConnell AFB, KS, Staff Sergeant John L. Gaters was found guilty by military judge alone of larceny of military property valued over $500 and false official statement. He was sentenced to a bad-conduct discharge, confinement for 30 days, and reduction to
  • Airman First Class (E-3).
  • 20. At Yokota AB, Japan, Airman First Class Connor J. Harrington was found guilty by military judge alone of larceny of property valued over $500. He was sentenced to confinement for
  • 30 days, hard labor without confinement for three months, restriction to base for two months, and reduction to Airman (E-2).
  • 21. At Yokota AB, Japan, Staff Sergeant Adrian T. King was found guilty by military judge alone of obstruction of justice, violating a lawful regulation, attempting to violate a lawful regulation, and soliciting another to violate a lawful regulation. He was sentenced to confinement for one month, reduction to Airman First Class (E-3), forfeiture of $500 pay, and a reprimand. Pursuant to a pretrial agreement, the convening authority will not approve any period of confinement.
  • 22. At Scott AFB, IL, Senior Airman David M. Machalek was found guilty by military judge alone of wrongful use of a controlled substance. He was sentenced to hard labor without confinement for 30 days, reduction to Airman Basic (E-1), and forfeiture of $400 pay per month for three months. The pretrial agreement had no effect on the adjudged sentence.
  • 23. At JB San Antonio-Lackland, TX, Senior Airman James B. McKinney was found guilty by military judge of wrongful use of a controlled substance, failure to obey a lawful order, and failure to go. He was sentenced by officer members to confinement for nine months.
  • 24. At Aviano AB, Italy, Airman First Class Candre L. Meekins was found guilty by military judge alone of wrongful use of a controlled substance. He was sentenced to confinement for 45 days, reduction to Airman Basic (E-1), and forfeiture of $1,066 pay per month for
  • two months.
  • 25. At Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ, Senior Airman Jamain T. Miller was found guilty by military judge alone of wrongful possession and use of controlled substances. He was sentenced to confinement for 10 days, hard labor without confinement for 30 days, reduction to
  • Airman First Class (E-3), and a reprimand.
  • 26. At Travis AFB, CA, Airman First Class Harley K. Pinhotamburi was found guilty by military judge alone of wrongful distribution and use of a controlled substance. He was sentenced to a bad-conduct discharge, confinement for 60 days, hard labor without confinement for 90 days, and reduction to Airman Basic (E-1). The pretrial agreement had no effect on the adjudged sentence.
  • 27. At JB Langley-Eustis, VA, Senior Airman Andrew C. Quintero was found guilty by military judge alone of wrongful use of controlled substances. He was sentenced to confinement for
  • 45 days, hard labor without confinement for 60 days, reduction to Airman Basic (E-1), forfeiture of $1,066 pay per month for two months, and a reprimand. The pretrial agreement had no effect on the adjudged sentence.
  • 28. At Scott AFB, IL, Airman Ronald A. Solis was found guilty by military judge alone of wrongful distribution, use, and possession of a controlled substance. He was sentenced to confinement for three months, hard labor without confinement for one month, reduction to Airman Basic (E-1), and forfeiture of $1,066 pay per month for four months. Pursuant to a pretrial agreement, the convening authority will not approve confinement in excess of two months.
  • 29. At Holloman AFB, NM, Airman Bryce J. Spelts was found guilty by military judge alone of wrongful use of controlled substances. He was sentenced to a bad-conduct discharge, confinement for two months, hard labor without confinement for two months, reduction to Airman Basic (E-1), and a reprimand. Pursuant to a pretrial agreement, the convening authority will not approve confinement in excess of 30 days.
Special Court-Martial Acquittals
  • 30. At JB McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, an enlisted Airman was acquitted by officer members of larceny of property valued under $500.
  • 31. At Barksdale AFB, LA, an enlisted Airman was acquitted by officer members of larceny of property valued over $500.
  • 32. At RAF Lakenheath, United Kingdom, an enlisted Airman was acquitted by officer members of false official statement and willful dereliction of duty.
  • 33. At Ft Meade, MD, an enlisted Airman was acquitted by officer members of wrongful use of a controlled substance.