Suffern soldier's accused killer faces death penalty
One of the motions that could have spared a National Guard sergeant the death penalty if convicted of killing two officers in Iraq has been denied by a military judge.
Staff Sgt. Alberto Martinez is being tried for the slayings of Capt. Phillip Esposito of Suffern and 1st Lt. Louis Allen of Milford, Pa.
In decisions released yesterday, a military judge rejected a defense argument that the difference between premeditated murder and unpremeditated murder was unconstitutionally vague and therefore the death penalty for premeditated murder should also be unconstitutional. Another motion challenges the death penalty on the grounds that it is not officially a time of war. No ruling on that issue has occurred.
The judge, Col. Patrick Parrish, also has rejected three other requests by the defense for Staff Sgt. Alberto Martinez, some of which could have consumed more time and further delayed a trial scheduled to be held Aug. 13 at Fort Bragg, N.C. Previously, it was scheduled for June.
Martinez, 40, of Cohoes, N.Y., is accused of mortally wounding Esposito and Allen at Forward Operating Base Danger near Tikrit on June 7, 2005.
The men died the next day at a military hospital. An explosion that tore apart their quarters was initially attributed to enemy fire, but an investigation implicated Martinez.
The other motions denied by the judge were:
-A request by the defense to appoint a liaison between Martinez's lawyers and the widows of the slain men.
-A request for more computer modeling of the locations and events relevant to the case.
-More time to investigate.
It's going on two years now since the murders. The wheels of justice are turning slowly, but they are turning.