Army prosecutors are two-for-two so far in their attempts to win full courts-martial for a dozen Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldiers accused of crimes in Afghanistan.
The Army announced Monday that Staff Sgt. David D. Bram will go to trial on allegations that he participated in roughing up a junior soldier who had notified authorities about drug use in their Stryker platoon.
Bram faces charges that he conspired to commit assault and battery, unlawfully struck another soldier, violated a lawful general order, was derelict in his duty and tried to impede an investigation.
Bram is not among the five soldiers from the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division accused of murdering Afghan civilians.
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If convicted, the 27-year-old from Vacaville, Calif., faces a maximum punishment of 91/2 years in prison. No trial date has been scheduled.
The whistleblower in the case, Pfc. Justin Stoner, told Army investigators in May that Bram initiated the group assault by pinning him against a wall by his neck, according to documents obtained by The News Tribune.
Evidence was presented during Bram’s Oct. 21 pre-trial hearing that showed bruises on Stoner’s chest. Bram knew Stoner was a whistleblower because the squad leader had been included in a briefing where that information was shared.
“A staff sergeant should be protecting Stoner,” Capt. Dre Leblanc argued while holding up photographs of Stoner’s bruises. “Instead, he gets this. I think it’s clear that this is maltreatment.”
An Army investigating officer thought enough of the prosecutors’ case to recommend that Bram go to trial in front of a military judge.
On Monday, officials announced that the base commanding general, Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, had referred Bram for court-martial proceedings.
Bram is the second of the 12 accused soldiers for whom a full trial has been ordered. Spc. Jeremy Morlock faces three counts of murder and could be sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole; his trial date also has not been set.
The other 10 infantrymen either await pre-trial hearings or a decision from Scaparrotti about whether they will go to trial.
Matt Misterek: 253-597-8472 matt. misterek@ thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/military