Skip to comments.Jury Finds Sergeant Guilty Of Premeditated Murder - Aaron Stanley (LIFE IN PRISON NO DP ARG)
Posted on 06/12/2005 6:00:11 PM PDT by Former Military Chick
FORT RILEY, Kan. -- A military jury found an Army sergeant guilty Friday of premeditated murder for the shootings of two fellow soldiers last year.
Sgt. Aaron Stanley, 23, of Bismarck, N.D., faces a sentence of life in prison. An eight-member court martial panel began hearing testimony in the sentencing phase after returning the verdict. Closing statements were to be presented Saturday morning, then the panel will determine if Stanley will ever be eligible for parole.
Stanley was convicted of killing Staff Sgt. Matthew Werner, 30, of Oxnard, Calif., and Spc. Christopher D. Hymer, 23, of Nevada, Mo., in September at Stanley's farmhouse in Clay Center, about 30 miles west of Fort Riley.
After the verdict, jurors heard testimony from victims' family members and from family and friends of Stanley.
'I'm So Sorry'
Stanley also took the stand to read an apology he had handwritten on a piece of notebook paper.
"I'm so sorry," he said in his apology to the victims' families. "I hope that you will find it in your hearts to forgive me and I hope that this brings peace."
He then went on to apologize to the Army and to the members of his unit.
"I brought discredit to this uniform by actions. My mistakes are my own," he said before he began sobbing so heavily that his defense attorneys had to finish reading the statement.
Stanley also started crying earlier when Caleigh Nichols, Hymer's sister, told jurors that her brother was a good father to his 5-year-old daughter.
"They liked to spend time together," Nichols said. "That's what daddies do."
Werner's wife, Kristen, said their 3-year-old son asks about his father every day.
"His father is his angel in heaven, is what we say," she testified.
During his court-martial, Stanley argued he acted in self-defense, but prosecutors said he shot the two men to protect a drug trafficking operation, believing the victims to be informants for Fort Riley police.
Stanley and another soldier, Sgt. Eric Colvin, 23, of Papillion, Neb., had acknowledged manufacturing methamphetamines and growing marijuana at Stanley's remote farmhouse.
Stanley pleaded guilty at the start of his court martial to drug use, drug possession, being absent without leave and adultery. He faces up to 37 years in prison on those charges.
The jurors found Stanley not guilty on a final charge of conspiracy to commit murder, however.
The jury deliberated less than three hours. As the verdict was read, Stanley stood and wiped tears from his eyes. Sitting behind him in the first row of spectator seating, his mother shook, and other family members were visibly upset.
All four soldiers were part of the 1st Battalion of the 41st Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division based at Fort Riley. Both Stanley and Colvin were with Bravo Company and had served in Iraq.
During closing arguments, Capt. Christy Schverak, one of the Army prosecutors, said Stanley's claim of self-defense was unsubstantiated, noting Stanley left his duties at the Army post to meet with the two soldiers he killed.
"He left a place of safety to go to a mutual fight," she said.
Capt. Anita Robbins, the lead defense attorney, pointed to changes in accounts given by Colvin, a key prosecution witness, who testified under a plea agreement.
Post officials haven't determined whether Colvin also will face a court martial, nor have they disclosed details of his plea agreement.
"He calls it justice," Robbins said, referring to Colvin. "We call it bought and paid for by the government."
Prosecutors contend Stanley lay in wait for the victims, believing they would reveal the drug manufacturing operation at the secluded rural residence. Stanley said Thursday he shot the other soldiers to protect himself and Colvin.
Werner had accused Stanley of having an affair with Werner's wife and, Stanley said, had threatened to "cut a chunk out" of his face. The adultery charges to which Stanley pleaded guilty did not involve Werner's wife, however.
Stanley said he shot Werner after finding him and Colvin wrestling in the kitchen, with Werner trying to stab Colvin with a big kitchen knife.
But Colvin testified he watched Stanley stand over the two victims and gun them down.
Death penalty folks, why is that not on the table??
Goodness gracious, has the military gotten soft on those who murder fellow soldiers?
The military has not executed a criminal outside a war zone since the 50's.
I'd rather be dead than serve life w/o parole in Levenworth. < /shudder>
There is no longer anymore hard time, but, that I also posted that on the above thread. Let me know if this helped in your opinion of USDB?
he has life without parole, son talked to some friends at the base and that's what they came down with
He will not serve a day of hard TIME ever!!
If some have not seen the thread on the history and photo's of the United States Military Barracks you can see them at Photo's: Historic United States Disciplinary Barracks (Ft. Leavenworth KS)Before and After.
You seem really upset about this. I agree that the death penalty would probably be preferable. But the death penalty is hard to get and hard to administer, even in a case that deserves it -- his sentence of life without parole in a military jail is still pretty harsh.
Thanks for the ping FMC. I agree with you, if Akbar, arguably a nut case gets the DP, what on earth possessed them to give him life?
"He left a place of safety to go to a mutual fight," she said.
I'm just guessing, but the mutual fight aspect may be the difference between the Death Penalty and prison.
It seemed to me that the Akbar case had some very unusually strong aggravating factors that called out for the death penalty. Akbar attacked several superior officers, with the enemy nearby, on the eve of their launch into battle. He basically went over to the enemy, and killed people to disrupt our combat operations.
While the murders in this case are bad (and warrant the death penalty in my opinion), it seems to me that this case lacked the overwhelming aggravating factors of the Akbar matter.
He had a fair trial.
At least he showed remorse and accepted responsibility at the end.
All he needs is a fast execution.
I try to be fair in all things and I think it is time for the military to get tough. They did so with Akbar and I think if you premeditate a murder that you should face the military death penalty. If folks cannot stomach that then at least life with NO parole.
Military justice moves much swifter.
When you get a chance check out the new digs at Ft Leavenworth, than take a moment to read all the wonderful ways for these guys to pass the time.
The only punishment, that they have to live confined. Beyond that, it is like being at a college campus. Gyms, craft rooms, education, wood working a variety of things and not one thing is hard labor.
Hard labor was when those confined moved stone by stone to build their own prison. Not today.
That was the first time I had ever seen the prison.
It is a beautiful cemetery.
Hard to believe the death penalty wasn't considered an option in this case.
Hard labor is a joke. I don't know why the term is even on the books. I would vote for bringing back chain gangs on a national scale in a heartbeat. There are some states who do have at least a form of labor, but I am not sure about the federal and military. The federal prison at Leavenworth used to overhaul office furniture for the government and the first pair of low quarters I was issued were made at the US Disciplinary Barracks. Not exactly hard labor, but it was something.
Oh, yeah, FMC, I'm ready to go commit some nefarious deed just so I can stay in thos plush digs! < /sarc> <-- sorry for that but this is FR and there's always that 5% that doesn't get the word...
Our motor sergeant went to the old USDB in about 1983. The guys that took him came back shuddering... nobody was being mistreated, but it was a very bleak place.
Criminal Number 18F
my son was in B company with these guys when this happened, said those two idiots had to use guns cause Werner could have whipped both of them if they had just used bare fists. said after being in Iraq with him he would go into any battle with him. Just a good guy, the other kid killed he said was one of the nicest guys you could ever know.
Can't remember if it was Stanley or Colvin that called him and some of the other guys wanting to know if they would take pictures at the funeral. Naturally they hung up on him after a few choice words.
sorry for your friend's terrible useless loss
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