Skip to comments.Carson soldier to face court martial for Afghan murder
Posted on 02/01/2011 10:58:17 AM PST by jazusamo
A Fort Carson soldier will be court-martialed for the murder for an Afghan prisoner, despite claims by his defense attorney that hes too mentally ill for trial.
Pfc. David Lawrences case was referred to a general court martial Tuesday by Fort Carson commander Brig. Gen. James Doty. The 20-year-old soldier faces a maximum punishment of life in prison in the Oct. 17 shooting death of an alleged Taliban leader known by the pseudonym Mullah Mohebullah.
The date for the general court martial has not yet been determined, Fort Carson said in a news release.
During a December evidence hearing in the case, Lawrence often fell asleep, which his civilian attorney, James Culp, attributed to anti-psychotic drugs prescribed to the soldier by Army psychiatrists.
On Oct. 17, Lawrence was serving at an outpost north of the Afghan city of Kandahar when he was sent to guard Mohebullah, who had been captured by soldiers from Fort Carsons 1st Brigade Combat Team earlier in the day.
During his guard shift, prosecutors said, Lawrence entered Mohebullahs cell and fired a single round from his rifle into the Afghans face. The case drew worldwide attention after Afghan President Hamid Karzai issued a blistering condemnation of the killing a day after Mohebullah died.
After the shooting, Lawrence was sent to another Afghan base for psychiatric care, then commanders in Afghanistan to send him home for treatment.
After the December hearing, Lawrence was admitted to a mental hospital, where family members said he was treated for schizophrenia.
The soldiers father, Brett Lawrence told the Associated Press on Tuesday that Army doctors found Lawrence was suffering from schizophrenia at the time of the killing and didn't realize his alleged actions were wrong.
Pfc. David Lawrence Ping!
He killed a Taliban leader? Give him a frigging medal.
Posted on Wednesday, December 15, 2010 5:58:48 PM by Sprite518
PFC Lawrence is accused of premeditated murder for the alleged shooting of Mullah Muhibullah on Oct. 17 while guarding him in Kandahar province, Afghanistan. Mullah Muhibullah was a senior Taliban commander and had been captured by U.S. forces the day before his death. Muhibullah's death was announced by an angry Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Oct. 19. Formal charges were filed against PFC Lawrence the same day, Oct. 19.
PFC Lawrence was medivaced out of Afghanistan on Oct. 24, and he arrived at Fort Carson, Colo. on Nov. 6. Though the Army had ordered a sanity inquiry on Nov. 5 to determine PFC Lawrences mental status and whether he is suffering from a major mental defect or disease, the Army decided not to wait for that answer before initiating the court-martial process in PFC Lawrences case. When the Army scheduled PFC Lawrences Article 32 Investigation (the equivalent to a preliminary hearing) for Nov. 29, the defense submitted two separate requests for a delay to enable the psychiatrists to determine PFC Lawrences mental status. Both delay requests were denied.
"We are going to an Article 32 for a kid who is hearing voices," James Culp, PFC Lawrence's attorney, said. The Article 32 Investigation proceeded on Nov. 29 and 30. As a result of his medication regiment, which includes the strongest does available of the drug prescribed for the treatment of schizophrenia, PFC Lawrence regularly fell asleep during the legal hearing that would ultimately decide if he will be court-martialed for premeditated murder. The "minimum" sentence for premeditated murder in the U.S. military is confinement for life. The maximum sentence is the death by execution.
Mr. Culp also said he was concerned the Army might be rushing the case to court-martial to appease Karzai. On Dec. 3, President Barak Obama made a surprise visit to Afghanistan to calm the tensions between the U.S. and Afghanistan that had been exacerbated by the killing of Taliban Commander Mullah Muhibullah. On the same day it was reported by Reuters that President Karzai and his brother have received large payments from the Taliban for the release of key Taliban prisoners. Coincidentally, on July 7, 2007, the Pajhwok Afghan News Agency reported that Muhibullah, Mullah Omars secretary, had already been captured. Neither U.S. nor Afghanistan officials have released any information about the process by which Muhibullah re-entered the stream of insurgency to kill and maim U.S. forces fighting in Afghanistan.
Less than a week before the shooting, PFC Lawrence was examined by psychiatrists and given drugs for depression and sleeplessness. Days later, he was put on guard duty at a detention center in the Arghandab district of Kandahar province, despite having no training for it.
Even before David requested to be taken for treatment to a combat stress clinic in Kandahar, David was reporting to his mother and father that he was hearing voices that were freaking him out. David subsequently reported to his family that his reoccurring hallucinations include seeing soldiers who had died in Afghanistan, including Capt. Dale Goetz. He told his father "... he could see the chaplain with only half a head remaining," Capt. Dale Goetz was a chaplain in the 4th Infantry Division for the 66th Armor Regiments 1st Battalion based out of Ft. Carson, Colorado. Capt. Goetz is the first Army chaplain killed in combat in 40 years. Capt. Goetz was David's friend. It was a known fact that David was closer to the chaplain than anyone else in the platoon.
This young man comes from a wonderful family and has very loving, caring parents who are undoubtedly afraid of what lies ahead. This is going to be a lengthy battle. Costs for specialists, travels to and from Colorado and all the costs involved with repeated weeklong stays there, medical evaluations and doctors are adding up.
This family needs help. Please show your support of PFC David Lawrence by making a contribution to his defense fund:
United Community Bank 19710 Stateline Road Lawrenceburg, IN 47025
Please make checks payable to "FOB PFC David W. Lawrence" Contributions can also be sent via paypal using the e-mail address: email@example.com
Any contribution, no matter how small is huge to the Lawrence family. Please keep PFC Lawrence and family in your prayers.
Amen to that!
so we now have soldiers performing executions without trial.
I wonder how many other soldiers will be killed or wounded due to this stupid act.
This war is corrupting our troops. This was an act of indiscipline. And some supposed ‘patriots’ think its ok.
The U.S. military continues to turn on its own. It's sad how far we've come from the generation of our fathers and grandfathers.
I was watching The Military Channel last night, it followed several veterans of the D-day invasion to the sights they fought on at Normandy. It showed lots of brutal footage as they interviewed the courageous American WWII heros. Two of those veterans said rather matter-of-factly, with confident smiles, that there were times when "I shot at whatever moved". Just imagine if our leaders gave this sort of liberty to our well trained soldiers. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would have been over long ago. Instead, we let our guys get shot at and killed as they're going through various channels to get permission to shoot back. Then they are commanded to treat the worst of the worst Taliban prisoners with kid gloves, and to repsect their barbaric religion which caused all this chaos in the first place.
Just a footnote, I'd like to thank that soldier who killed the Taliban leader. The Taliban are among, if not the most brutal, cold blooded murderers on earth. Their leaders should be executed when caught, as a merciful act to each and every Afghan citizen who must live in mortal fear of being chopped to pieces at any time by these scum.
Pfc. Lawrence has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, are you familiar with the disease?
I am furious. It is unforgivable that the Army has decided to continue the court-martial process against my son after their own experts have concluded that David was suffering so severely from PTSD and schizophrenia that he could not appreciate the wrongfulness of his actions....
Between December and January, the Army psychiatrist at Fort Carson whose duty it was to treat my son for his mental illness refused to prescribe David the anti-psychotic medication needed to treat his schizophrenia, the necessary medication that would allow David to cope with this mental illness. This doctors bias nearly cost my son his life.
Like the Army psychiatrist who treated my son with total disregard for his mental illness, the Army prosecutors in this case are now attempting to convict David of murder in spite of what their own experts have concluded. I am appalled, sickened and angry.
David asked for help before Mr. Mohebullah was killed. Instead of real mental health treatment, David was given a short stay at a combat stress clinic, he was prescribed two different psychotropic medications, and then with no monitoring and little if any instructions, he was sent to guard a high value prisoner, a duty he had never preformed. Davids command knew he was suffering; other troops had reported it to them. Yet they still put him in a situation where something like this could happen. In a situation where the Army is trying to hold my son solely accountable for the killing of Mr. Mohebullah, I would like to know who is holding our government accountable for their actions?
David is being court-martialed as if he were not suffering from a mental illness. To make matters worse, the Army is now pretending that the Taliban commander who was killed in this case has now become an unknown male of apparent Afghan descent. The Army should not be able to pick, choose and change the facts of in an effort to hide their own responsibility in this case. Sadly, this appears to be exactly what is happening.
The bottom line is this. My son has severe schizophrenia and severe post traumatic stress disorder. The Governments own experts in this case have concluded that Davids mental illnesses were so severe that he could not appreciate the nature of his actions. At a time my son is most deserving of his countrys support and understanding, a most terrible decision has been made to continue his court-martial. From where I sit, it seems the Army believes the best defense for their own responsibility in this case is an offensive against my son. My heart is broken. My son is broken. The Armys version of justice is broken.
January 31, 2011
More on the story from the Denver Post...
Actually, your worries are in the wrong place. Only some sort of freak would pine over the death of a cold blooded mass murderer of women, children and our own troops, and condemn the soldier who did the world such a favor, during a BRUTAL war against that mass murderer and his ilk.
Ours is the most disciplined military on earth, and in all frankness friend, this sort of wartime event was once expected by reasonable people to happen with regularity. It DID in fact happen all the time and the military just looked the other way, quite pleased that a cold blooded murderer of women and children, and a killer of our own troops, has "expired". - Remember, this wasn't some young kid forced into random killing by Taliban elders and leaders. This was a vicious, fully matured Taliban LEADER. Of the sort who not only kills, maimes and tortures women and children and US troops, but forces others to do the same. He sat down and carefully planned his murders and terrorism, with jihaadist GLEE. Is it really a human being that does such things, or a soul that has given itself completely over to the Devil? The Devil has him now, and our troops and the world have greatly benefitted.
The Left is determined to prosecute SOMEONE in the military for some kind of torture/war crimes
Thanks for finding his fathers statement and posting it, Smooth.
Hopefully kneejerk posters will take the time to learn about David Lawrence and his families feelings on this.
I agree totally. He was treated for depression before the incident took place but he wasn’t treated for schizophrenia and that is something that doesn’t come and go.
Fine. Try Mr Taliban first. A PFC should not be setting policy, especially a nutter.
Not only a fool comes to mind but ignorant with his reply to jiminycricket000 using the word nutter.
I don’t give a sh$t what you think I am. In my army days
harming enemy personnel in custody would have resulted
in a courts martial. I guess your army is full of yahoos
who ignore their orders and their superiors.
Hey dipwad, I asked you a simple question which you refused to answer.
That question was about schizophrenia which has been determined by Army psychiatrists Pfc. Lawrence suffers from and this case rests on.
Your original kneejerk post has nothing to do with the case just as your last one doesn’t.
Skip to comments.Soldier's trial has broader implications for military's treatment of mental health
Denver Post ^ | 12-5-2010 | Kevin Vaughn
Posted on 12/05/2010 11:11:25 AM PST by smoothsailing
By Kevin Vaughan The Denver Post
Posted: 12/05/2010 12:00:00 AM MST
Updated: 12/05/2010 09:11:50 AM MST
The questions raised in the case against Army Pfc. David Lawrence go far beyond whether he killed a shackled Taliban commander, or even whether he knew what he was doing when he pulled the trigger.
They stretch to the military itself, and how commanders deal with service members who have mental-health problems during a time that the United States is fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. During a time when military men and women are repeatedly deployed in combat zones. During a time when, a recent investigation found, one in six members of the armed forces is taking psychiatric drugs.
Lawrence, who is 20 but looks younger, faces the possibility of the death sentence if convicted of murdering prisoner Mullah Mohebullah at a military compound in Arghandab, Afghanistan.
At a preliminary hearing in the case last week, it was clear that Lawrence's lawyers will try to establish that he was unable to tell right from wrong in the shooting. To do that, they may well put the Army's treatment of the mentally ill on trial.
When he was happy, the grin stretched all the way across David Lawrence's face. Someone called him "Smiley," and it stuck.
But long before he ended up at Operation Control Center District a compound the size of two football fields a fellow soldier saw a dark side to the young man born in Ohio and raised in Indiana.
"I thought he was a little unstable at times," Pfc. Dimitri Jenkins, a combat medic, said by telephone from Afghanistan as he testified at an Article 32 hearing called to determine whether enough evidence exists to court-martial Lawrence.
Jenkins took his concern to a sergeant, he testified, telling the man who would ultimately lead Lawrence on patrol in Afghanistan that "he's f------ crazy at times."
Still, Sgt. Dominic Buscemi said, he was never concerned that Lawrence wasn't fit to serve.
Being at war can mean many things. Gross discomfort. Mind- numbing boredom. Heart- pounding terror.
Lawrence experienced them all.
He apparently had only one direct taste of battle.
On patrol one day, a vehicle at the front of the squad's convoy was rocked by a roadside bomb and a brief skirmish involving small arms followed. In the modern war, it was a minor battle an Afghan fighter wrenched his ankle, and an American solider suffered cuts to his head that were easily salved with bandages.
But Lawrence also experienced the reality of war in a unit that Buscemi estimated had lost eight soldiers and had more than 100 wounded. On Aug. 30, Capt. Dale Goetz, a chaplain based at Fort Carson, was one of five soldiers killed by a roadside bomb.
Goetz and Lawrence had interacted frequently, the young man joking "you're not going to convert me," and the 43- year-old chaplain saying "I'm just trying to see how you're doing."
After Goetz's death, Jenkins said, Lawrence sat for hours, staring at the ground, smoking one cigarette after another.
"You could tell he was hurting," Jenkins testified.
Later, in the fall, Lawrence asked for help. He was flown to the American air base in Kandahar, where he spent five or six days at a combat stress clinic.
He was flown back to his unit with prescriptions for two antidepressant drugs, Zoloft and Trazodone.
There was a time when the culture in the military was simple: Suck it up and do your job. The thought of acknowledging depression, fear, anxiety and sadness was anathema in a kill-or-be-killed world.
After nearly a decade at war in Afghanistan and more than seven years of fighting in Iraq, there's a concerted effort to change things, said U.S. Army Col. Rebecca Porter, chief of behavioral health for the Office of the Surgeon General and herself a clinical psychologist.
Efforts in recent years have been focused on preparing soldiers to face "stressors" of combat and daily life and giving them help when they experience them. In a deployment, that help might be a talk with a chaplain or a commanding officer, or a video hookup with a social worker or psychologist. And, in more serious cases, it might mean a trip to a combat stress clinic.
"Our doctrine is to treat either physical or behavioral health issues as close to the front as possible, which we've seen provides a better opportunity for a soldier to get back into the fight and function well," she said.
Charles Figley, a professor in the graduate school of social work at Tulane University and himself a Marine veteran of combat in Vietnam who has extensively studied the effects of war on service members, commended the efforts of the military in recent years to face the mental health issues afflicting today's warriors. And he said the military and the Army in particular has come a long way since the U.S. went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"I'd give them one star at that point in time, out of five, but I think they probably deserve three and a half at this point in time," he said.
But ominous problems exist.
There's still high rates of depression and suicide among service members a recent Department of Defense study found that more than 1,100 members of the military ended their lives between 2005 and 2009, an average of one every 36 hours.
"I think the major challenge is one that is extraordinarily difficult to overcome, and that's culture," Figley said.
Porter acknowledged that reality.
"We have put considerable effort into decreasing the stigma around seeking out behavioral health care, and with regard to, for example, suicide prevention, part of what we encourage soldiers to do is ask each other if they're feeling depressed or suicidal and, if so, going the extra step to escort their buddy or their fellow soldier to get some assistance," she said.
And increasingly, drugs are used to treat mental-health problems on the battlefield.
A Military Times investigation conducted earlier this year found that one in six service members was on a psychiatric drug and that between 2001 and 2009 the federal government spent $1.1 billion on those medications.
"Generally, those medications are quite safe, which is why they are used," said Dr. Thomas Grieger, a psychiatrist who is a retired Navy captain. "They're not prone to overdose or they're not prone to abuse in any way, so they don't interfere with the ability to perform duty."
In fact, he said, many service members perform better on the medications.
But not everyone is sold on the idea that a pill is the answer for the mental ills of war.
"I think the military is responding just like the rest of the county is responding let's overmedicate people," said defense attorney Dan Conway of New Hampshire. "Every time you have a problem or a mental- health issue or depression, we put you on any number of medications. And every time I get a client that has combat experiences, I get these otherwise healthy kids that are 19, 20, 21 years old, and they're on six or seven different medications."
Fellow soldiers saw a marked change in Pfc. David Lawrence when he returned from the combat stress clinic, drugs in hand.
"Before the medication, he was angry sometimes down and depressed," Jenkins, the medic who slept two bunks down from him, testified. "After the medication, he was a lot more relaxed and easygoing calm."
Jenkins didn't know that his friend had e-mailed family members telling them he heard voices. And he didn't know that Lawrence professed to have terrible problems sleeping.
On Oct. 17, Lawrence stood at his bunk, ready to assume his shift guarding Mohebullah, who had been captured earlier that day. He was the first Taliban fighter the squad had taken into custody.
"You ever feel like you have to do something?" Lawrence asked, Jenkins testified.
"What are you talking about?" Jenkins replied.
"Do you ever feel like you have to do something other people are too (chicken) to do?"
The conversation went back and forth. Finally, Jenkins testified, Lawrence said, "I have guard duty in 20 minutes" and smiled, then geared up and headed out the door.
Jenkins asked another soldier what Lawrence was talking about. The bunkmate, who was playing a video game, answered "he said I wouldn't have a guard shift."
Jenkins ran out the door, found two sergeants and told them he feared that Lawrence planned to kill the Taliban commander.
They rushed to the jail, where they discovered Lawrence sitting in a chair smoking a cigarette.
"I killed him," Lawrence said, according to Buscemi.
For Maj. George Bruachler, one of the prosecutors in the case, those statements are powerful evidence of premeditation, and of understanding the difference between right and wrong.
For attorney James Culp, a former infantry sergeant who is representing his sixth soldier or Marine accused of murder in a combat zone, those statements are powerful evidence of a young man too mentally ill to realize that laying out his killing plans beforehand was a mistake.
Ultimately, it will be up to a team of psychiatrists and psychologists to determine whether Lawrence is mentally ill a process that could wrap up by Friday.
In the meantime, Lawrence's father, Brett, told The Associated Press that his son is staying in an unnamed mental health facility in Colorado.