The defense opened its case in Staff Sgt. Alberto Martinez’s fragging court-martial yesterday and its clear that it is trying to paint him as a dim-witted, profanity prone soldier who was none-the-less affable, and hardly the type who would plan the cold-blooded murder of two superior officers.
The problem with that picture is that the prosecution has brought forth enough witnesses who have testifying that they were personally aware about the ongoing feud between Martinez and his commander, Captain Phillip Esposito of Suffern, and that they heard him making threats to fragg Esposito. So far the prosecution has been able to make the case that Martinez is the only person who had the motive, the ability and the opportunity to carry out the murders.
Martinez was the supply sergeant of the 42nd Infantry Division’s headquarter support company in Tikrit, Iraq, in 2005, and has access to all kinds of ammunition and explosives. Esposito was his company commander. 1st Lt. Louis Allen of Milford, Pa, the new second-in-command, had just arrived in Iraq, and was in esposito’s room when a claymore mine exploded and killed them both. Martinez is charged with planting the mine.
The defense seems have have had a shaky start. It was supposed to bring forth its witnessess on Tuesday, but asked for a delay because all its witnesses hadn’t arrived at Fort Bragg where the trial is being held. Defense witnesses started their testimony on Wednesday, but broke early today because some witnesses hadn’t arrived. The defense blamed the government for dragging its feet in bringing the witnesses, most of whom are posted overseas or are at locations across the country.
I’ve been following the trial from West Point, where a live video feed has been provided for family members and the media. Several of Allen’s relatives who live in the area come to watch the trial. Relatives of Esposito’s wife, Siobhan, also occasionally come.