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More testimony heard in fragging trial - Army News, opinions, editorials, news from Iraq, photos, reports - Army Times
news/2008/10/ap_fraggingtrial_102508
More testimony heard in fragging trial



The Associated Press
Posted : Saturday Oct 25, 2008 7:54:48 EDT
FORT BRAGG, N.C. — A military commander testified Friday the building where two New York Army National Guard officers died when a bomb detonated was the only structure on the base in Iraq that didn’t comply with a safety directive.
Col. Robert Crow was the garrison commander at Forward Operating Base near Tikrit when the blast occurred the night of June 7, 2005. Crow said he didn’t know the explosion wasn’t a mortar attack until the next morning, according to a written summary of the hearing from Fort Bragg.
Crow was among witnesses who testified Friday in the murder case against Staff Sgt. Alberto Martinez, who is accused of planting an anti-personnel mine in a window of the officers’ room at Saddam Hussein’s Water Palace in Tikrit. The blast killed Capt. Phillip Esposito and 1st Lt. Louis Allen. They were with the 42nd Infantry Division.
Martinez, 41, of Troy, N.Y., pleaded not guilty to premeditated murder. He is the first soldier from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to be accused of killing a direct superior, a crime known as “fragging” during the Vietnam War.
Prosecutors allege Martinez planted the mine because he was upset with Esposito, his superior officer, because of Esposito’s strict oversight of the supply room Martinez worked in. Witnesses have said the relationship was tense because Esposito wanted all the room’s equipment accounted for, while Martinez thought the paperwork was unnecessary.
Master Sgt. Lance Willsey, the unit’s first sergeant, testified Friday the only section of the unit with issues was the supply area. Willsey said from about May to June 2005, Esposito ordered that Martinez be escorted at all times when entering the supply area. Willsey said Martinez wasn’t happy about the order and heard him make a derogatory comment.
On cross-examination, Willsey acknowledged he never reported the incident, according to the testimony summary.
Col. Joan Sullivan, the division surgeon, testified that Martinez visited the medical facility June 8, 2005 — hours after Allen and Esposito died, according to her testimony — complaining of noise exposure. He claimed he was outside the Water Palace when the mortars hit the night before, she said.
The medical assessment included ringing of the ears and smoke inhalation, Sullivan testified. She said such injuries were common after a detonation.
She testified that Esposito was unconscious after the blast, but that Allen was conscious and talking. She said Esposito’s left eye lid was swollen, and his chest and abdomen had BB-sized holes.
When asked by prosecutors whether the injures were normally associated with indirect fire injuries, she answered “no.” She said what stood out to her were the BB marks on both men, explaining that indirect fire injuries usually involve cuts, slashes or injuries that could cause amputations. Both men died shortly after midnight June 8, 2005.
Esposito, 30, of Suffern, N.Y., worked as an information technology manager in Manhattan and was Martinez’s company commander. Allen, 34, of Milford, Pa., was a high school science teacher and the company operations officer. The Espositos had a young daughter, and the Allens had four young sons.
The hearing was scheduled to resume Monday morning at Fort Bragg. The trial is expected to run through the end of the year.