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Monday, May 05, 2008

Army Noncommissioned Officer Defended by Attorney Richard Stevens Found Not Guilty of Premeditated Murder (and Related Allegations) of Iraqi Terrorist Insurgent

On 1 May 2008, just six days after the verdict in the SFC Trey Corrales case, an Army jury of officers and noncommissioned officers at Ft Hood, Texas returned a verdict of not guilty to all charges and specifications faced by SGT Leonardo Trevino. The jury deliberated for no more than an hour in returning the complete acquittal of SGT Trevino, who was facing allegations of premeditated murder, solicitation of murder, attempted murder and obstruction of justice (x 3). The alleged victim in the Iraqi terrorist insurgent.

This case arose out of a 26 June 2007 small kill team (SKT) mission near Muqdadiyah, Iraq. Testimony at trial described SGT Trevino leading the SKT (like a sniper team) into an enemy neighborhood that had been taken over by Al Qaida insurgents for the purpose of ambushing the terrorist insurgents who were launching attacks against American forces, using the neighborhood as their base of operations.

On this mission, four terrorist insurgents were engaged from the SKT's rooftop position, one insurgent was carrying an RPG. After the initial engagement, one insurgent was dead and the three others had escaped. When SGT Trevino and others cleared the house these insurgents were coming out of, AK-47s, ammunition, grenades, IEDs, IED making equipment, Al Qaida propaganda and ski masks were discovered. A blood trail was also discovered which indicated one of the three terrorist insurgents who escaped was wounded during the initial engagement.

The blood trail led to another enemy house in the village in which the terrorist was discovered and where he ultimately died. SGT Trevino's role in the insurgent's death was at issue in the case. During hours of trial testimony, SGT Trevino described the mission and the many threats the SKT encountered, to include threats posed by the second terrorist insurgent who was killed.

The defense in the case focused on the credibility and motives of the witnesses, the apparent planting of evidence in SGT Trevino's room, the inconsistencies between the testimony about what occurred and the picture of the dead insurgent (which did not match what the witnesses claimed), what wound(s) caused the insurgent's death, and, finally, the threat posed by the second terrorist insurgent according to the applicable rules of engagement.

As stated in the previous (SFC Corrales) blog post, unlike other military offenses, premeditated murder has a mandatory minimum sentence of life imprisonment. Therefore, a conviction on the most serious offense would have mandated a life term. As with the SFC Corrales verdict, we are extremely thankful for, and are gratified by, the result in this case.

We salute SGT Leonardo Trevino and his fellow soldiers for their heroic military service in the war on terror - much of which is constantly in an environment of imminent danger. We thank the Trevino family for their sacrifice in loaning SGT Trevino to the nation to defend us, knowing what risk he, and you, were taking in doing so. And, finally, we sincerely thank the Trevino family for the honor of choosing Richard Stevens to represent and defend you.

While this criminal case was successfully defended, it is important to understand that every case has different facts, and success in previous cases does not guarantee success in any particular future case. No military lawyer or civilian defense lawyer, including those who specialize in military law, can guarantee the outcome of any military trial. For more information on the military justice system, please see our other blog posts.

By: Attorney Richard V. Stevens
Civilian criminal defense lawyer and military defense lawyer
Military Defense Law Offices of Richard V. Stevens, PC

Blog postscript: Attorney Frank Spinner and I (attorney Richard Stevens) are former active duty military lawyers (JAG). Our perspectives and advice, therefore, are based upon our experience as military defense lawyers and as civilian criminal defense lawyers practicing exclusively in the area of military law. This blog addresses issues in military law, military justice, military discipline, military defense, court-martial practice, the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and other military and/or legal topics. Nothing posted in this blog should be substituted for legal advice in any particular case. If you seek legal advice for a particular case, please contact The Law Offices of Richard V. Stevens & The Law Office of Frank J. Spinner for a free consultation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

To this day I thank the Lord for Defense Attorney Richard Stevens. There are no words to describe this man's work.
I will always be grateful for the kindness you showed towards the family and my son in every phone call and every email. My son will always be grateful for the fact that you believed in him.
I strongly recommend anyone who is wrongfully accused to look Mr. Stevens up...
We must also give thanks to United Patriots organization and all veteran organization in our city that helped and supported my son.