Military panel gets fragging case; soldier faces death penalty
West Point — A military panel will begin deliberations Wednesday to decide the fate of Staff Sgt. Alberto Martinez, a soldier accused of killing two local officers from the New York National Guard while the three were deployed together in Iraq.
The case is the first in either the Iraq or Afghanistan wars in which a soldier is accused of killing a superior officer, a crime known as “fragging.”
A unanimous guilty verdict could mean a death sentence for Martinez of Troy, who is charged with the premeditated murder of Capt. Phil Esposito of Suffern and 1st Lt. Lou Allen, a native of Chester. The three were serving together with the 42nd Infantry Division in Tikrit, Iraq, on June 7, 2005, when the killings occurred.
Allen and Esposito died after a Claymore mine detonated just outside Esposito’s room, as the two were playing a game of Risk. In closing arguments broadcast live Tuesday to West Point from Fort Bragg, N.C., prosecutor Maj. John Benson said Martinez was the only one capable of obtaining the mine, as well as the grenades used as a diversion in the attack.
About half-dozen of Allen’s family members watched the live video feed of the trial at West Point Tuesday. Allen’s wife, Barbara, and his parents, Bob and Vivian Allen, were with Esposito’s family in Fort Bragg.
After 3+ years, the end is finally in sight. I hope the verdict provides the Esposito and Allen families with some closure. I think they've been waiting too long as it is. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers.