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Denver, CO Martial Law Blog

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Hiring a Military Defense Attorney in a Murder Case

Should I trust the free military defense counsel with my murder case?

Hiring a civilian military murder defense attorney is arguably the best chance a service member has of being acquitted, having charges reduced, or having the consequences of conviction mitigated.

Many consider it risky to trust the free lawyer from the military defense counsel as they are often overworked, overwhelmed, less experienced, and without access to the resources necessary to mount the strongest court-martial defense.

Because murder charges threaten a service member’s future in the military, finances and benefits, freedom, reputation, and even their life, an experienced aggressive defense attorney can mean the difference between acquittal or conviction, or years vs. decades in jail.

Private defense counsel may mitigate the legal consequences of a conviction through factors that may include a favorable service or combat history, PTSD or mental health conditions with substance abuse.

In particularly complicated and complex cases-- especially when multiple parties are suspects or conspiracy is alleged-- having a civilian military defense attorney involved early on in the investigative process is important to safeguard important evidence and witness statements.

A good example why this is important would be the 2017 strangulation death of an Army Green Beret and the resulting investigation. Initially, two Navy SEALs who shared off-sight housing with the victim and reportedly gave conflicting information to investigators emerged as suspects early on. However, many months later two Marine Raiders are reportedly facing an Article 32 hearing to see if they will also face felony murder and related charges in connection with the death.

Reportedly, the four service members may face charges of “felony murder, involuntary manslaughter, conspiracy, obstruction of justice, hazing and burglary.”

Between alleged statements by the accused SEALs, the suspect Marine Raiders, other witnesses, and investigators, there were many contradicting theories and continuing questions about the death.

The SEALs reportedly first said they found the victim unconscious, then said he “was drunk and passed out when they tried to revive him” and then after toxicology reports reportedly showed no alcohol or drugs in the victim’s system, they allegedly said they “ambushed” him. There are questions as to whether the Marine Raiders were in the room or not, what their involvement may have been, whether the “field expedient tracheotomy” on the victim was an attempt to revive him or to “hide evidence of the injuries inflicted” on the victims.

In the hands of a skilled defense attorney, these many inconsistencies can help the defense.

If you have been charged or expect to be charged with homicide or any other crime as a service member, the skilled civilian military defense attorneys at Elkus, Sisson & Rosenstein can help. Contact us today for a free consultation.

From our offices in Colorado Springs, and Denver, Colorado, we represent service members of all ranks, in all branches, anywhere in the world.

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