ROK Drop

Avatar of GI KoreaBy on February 28th, 2013 at 7:25 am

Former Kunsan Commander Lt. Col James Wilkerson Has Sexual Assault Conviction Dropped

Remember the case of Lieutenant Colonel James Wilkerson the former Kunsan squadron commander who was convicted of sexual assault?  Well the convening authority decided to drop the charges against him:

The sexual-assault conviction of the 31st Fighter Wing’s former inspector general was set aside by the Third Air Force commander Tuesday, releasing the fighter pilot from jail and reinstating him into the Air Force.

Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin dismissed the case against Lt. Col. James Wilkerson, who after a weeklong trial in November at Aviano Air Base, Italy, was found guilty of aggravated sexual assault and sentenced to a year in jail, forfeiture of all pay and dismissal from the service.

Franklin, the authority who convened Wilkerson’s court-martial and a former commander of the 31st Fighter Wing who is also an F-16 pilot, declined to provide specifics on why he overruled the verdict and sentence reached by the jury of four colonels and one lieutenant colonel.

A written statement from the Third Air Force said that  “… after careful deliberation” Franklin had  “concluded that the entire body of evidence was insufficient to meet the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Why Franklin found reasonable doubt where jurors had not wasn’t clear.

“He did look at the same [evidence] that the jury looked at,” said Lt. Col. Paul Baldwin, a Third Air Force spokesman.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read the rest at the link, but like I mentioned when I originally covered this story, it is a tough one to draw firm conclusions on since it was the husband and wife’s word against the accuser.  However, I cannot get over what the accuser had to gain from this?  Maybe the convening authority overruled the jury because they were going by the old rules of conviction where people accused of sexual assault in the military are guilty until proven innocent which was found to be un-Constitutional.  This led to servicemembers convicted of rape before to have their cases overturned.  The convening authority maybe saw similarities with this case as the ones that were dismissed and thus dropped the conviction?

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  • someotherguy
    5:41 pm on February 28th, 2013 1

    “Maybe the convening authority overruled the jury because they were going by the old rules of conviction where people accused of sexual assault in the military are guilty until proven innocent which was found to be un-Constitutional. – See more at: http://rokdrop.com/2013/02/28/former-kunsan-commander-lt-col-james-wilkerson-has-sexual-assault-conviction-dropped/#sthash.3VtoPssU.dpuf

    Most likely this. The Military hasn’t reset itself to the fact that it’s been wrongfully convicting service members by denying them due process and prejudicing the court. The prosecution always makes this big emotional plea to ensure the already biased jury to convict the guy regardless of any evidence presented.

    Without knowing exactly why he dismissed the case it’s hard for us to judge. One thing to be sure, this is NOT a “cover up / frat BS” that the liberals will claim it to be. Senior commanders do not dismiss such serious and politically hot cases lightly, their effectively risking their career when they do that.

  • Glans
    6:08 pm on February 28th, 2013 2

    someotherguy, liberals value the rights of the accused.

  • Obama's Speech Coach
    6:46 pm on February 28th, 2013 3

    Glans, you’re so right… Look how many liberals rush to defend every Conservative ever accused of wrong-doing…

  • JoeC
    6:47 pm on February 28th, 2013 4

    It seems to me that reading the transcripts of a trial is a lot different than actually sitting in the courtroom and watching the actual testimonies and reactions. But his judgement of the trial supersedes that of 4 other seniors officers decisions as jurors at the trial? Did he just tarnish the intelligence, reputations and integrity of those officers?

    There was strong indications that the accused’s wife gave false statements to the investigators and suggestions that others senior in that commands had issues with their involvement.

    This is the first time I’ve ever heard that flag officer has thrown out a conviction after the fact without any other legal review or proceeding — just because he felt it wasn’t right.

    I’m still willing to suspect a BS good ol’ boy play on this one.

  • Bobby Ray
    6:58 pm on February 28th, 2013 5

    Glans you are right but this here is a special case for liberal thought. You got a white military fellow accused of crimes against a woman. Fretting about the rights of the accused in this here case is like dividing by zero in the liberal mind.

    If they overturned this here old case cause of a new way of thinking in them military courts they is going to have to go back and overturn a whole lot of other cases especially for them lower ranks that always was getting the short end of the stick.

  • someotherguy
    7:01 pm on February 28th, 2013 6

    “liberals value the rights of the accused.”

    Only when the accused is one of your own. When their not then you want them thrown to the wolves and summarily executed without a trial. When the accused has the audacity to demand a trial before their execution you want that trial to be a farce and prejudice the f*ck out of it before hand.

    Case in point, George Zimmerman trial.

  • someotherguy
    7:10 pm on February 28th, 2013 7

    “This is the first time I’ve ever heard that flag officer has thrown out a conviction after the fact without any other legal review or proceeding — just because he felt it wasn’t right. – See more at: http://rokdrop.com/2013/02/28/former-kunsan-commander-lt-col-james-wilkerson-has-sexual-assault-conviction-dropped/#comment-488436

    Again a misunderstanding on how the military courts system works.

    Jury’s do not convict, they only recommend based on a 2/3rd’s majority vote. There is no reasonable doubt requirement.

    With how biased and prejudiced the courts are with anything related to sexual assault, its no wonder they find towards recommend guilty. They error on the side of the defendant being guilty, which has been found to be unconstitutional. It’s the GCMA role to review the courts martial findings along with any other evidence or findings they require and determine whether to go with the jury’s verdict, alter the verdict or just throw the whole damn thing out.

    This means the GCMA actually has more information available then the jury had as he’s not bound by the trial judge’s restrictions on evidence introduction. He would of read the defenses witness depositions about the credibility of the alleged victim, the jurors would not of been allowed to hear those due to “victims rights” advocates blocking them. The GCMA is supposed to be a final sanity check in the UCMJ to ensure the less restricted prosecution isn’t railroading defendants. Remember the burden of proof in a military court is substantially less then that of a civilian court.

  • JoeC
    7:17 pm on February 28th, 2013 8

    I also suspect this may be one of the first tests for the new SecDef. Maybe more to come of this.

  • someotherguy
    7:25 pm on February 28th, 2013 9

    @8,

    Well this case is done and over with. This isn’t an appeals where each higher up commander gets to overturn the guy under him. This General was the General Courts Martial Authority for that command, his decision is final. The defense can appeal a conviction, yet in this case there isn’t even a trial anymore. Tomorrow President Obama could make a statement saying he feels the LTC was guilty and should be found as such, and it would mean do absolutely nothing. There isn’t even an acquittal verdict or even a mistrial. Its the equivalent of the DA dismissing all charges right after a jury’s verdict but before the sentencing hearing. The SJA actually works for the GCMA.

    Now there will be some political heat on the General and he’ll have to defend his reasoning to his boss’s and maybe even the JCS. Very little of that will be put on the media though as nothing good could come of it. If the reasoning is sound then the liberals will twist it into a “recipe to get away with rape” and slander him. If it’s sketchy reasoning then they’ll just be direct and demand more blood.

  • JoeC
    7:29 pm on February 28th, 2013 10

    #7

    He “was found guilty of aggravated sexual assault and sentenced to a year in jail.”

    Sentencing come after conviction.

    “Franklin’s disposition of the case came after a uniquely military post-trial review process in which convicted servicemembers petition the convening authority for clemency.”

  • someotherguy
    7:38 pm on February 28th, 2013 11

    @He “was found guilty of aggravated sexual assault and sentenced to a year in jail.” – See more at: http://rokdrop.com/2013/02/28/former-kunsan-commander-lt-col-james-wilkerson-has-sexual-assault-conviction-dropped/#sthash.OYZAyxkL.dpuf

    *Slams head on desk*

    Jury’s do not find people guilty / not guilty nor do they do sentencing. They make recommendations and pass those recommendations to the GCMA. That’s actually the distinction between a summary courts martial (no Jury) and a general courts martial, in both cause’s the GCMA still has ultimate authority. GCMA’s tend to validate the jury’s findings, they rarely ever dismiss a trial.

    Petition for clemency is just asking to discuss the trial findings with the GCMA and request special consideration. It’s not an appeal at all. GCMA’s are the military version of civilian district attorneys, the SJA and the prosecution team works for them.

  • someotherguy
    7:48 pm on February 28th, 2013 12

    I’m speaking purely in the context of a Military courts martial. Civilian courts work differently though Judges still have the ability to throw a trial out if they find the evidence does not support a guilty verdict.

  • Leon LaPorte
    10:57 pm on February 28th, 2013 13

    9. Now there will be some political heat on the General and he’ll have to defend his reasoning to his boss’s and maybe even the JCS.

    I bet you he did all of that before he overturned the verdict. It’s over and done.

  • Liz
    6:16 am on March 1st, 2013 14

    #1: “Senior commanders do not dismiss such serious and politically hot cases lightly, their effectively risking their career when they do that.”

    Quite right, case and point the Vice Wing Commander, “Osto” lost his job over this.

  • Glans
    7:36 am on March 1st, 2013 15

    James Wilkerson deserved a fair trial. George Zimmerman deserves a fair trial. Anyone denying that is a leftist, not a liberal.

  • jim
    4:51 am on March 4th, 2013 16

    http://www.stripes.com/news/air-force-pilot-s-sex-assault-dismissal-sparks-cries-for-reform-1.210371

  • Marlowe
    9:16 am on March 9th, 2013 17

    Anyone who denies that the rape culture of the US military doesn’t heavily favor the male rapist is a male or a female looking to be appointed to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

    Wilkerson got away with rape. Hagel spent his career voting against women’s rights so Franklin will not suffer for giving his fellow fighter pilot a pass on a rape. I mean, after all, he just stuck a couple of fingers up her while she was asleep. It wasn’t like he beat her up and stuck his penis in her. It was no big deal.

  • Brian
    1:35 pm on March 13th, 2013 18

    It is not plausible that anyone in his position, married, at home with his wife at home, drunk or not, would attempt rape against such an old woman as that. There are plenty of young girls willing to provide sex for pay in a place where there are no prying eyes.

  • Ole Tanker
    5:17 pm on March 13th, 2013 19

    #14 Liz. Really? Risk his career? He will still retire at flag rank. No loss in rank or benefits.

    And he saved a LTC’s (family) retirement and benefits too! So, in a chivalric sense of loyaty he did an honorable thing.

    Like I said before, “It’s good to be King.”

    Some thing just stick in my craw, pompous Officers is one. Generals especially. I’ve seen them boot enlisted guys with families just for the fun of it:(

  • Ole Tanker
    7:06 pm on March 13th, 2013 20

    Stand back folks! the Air Force can handle this one:)

    http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/03/13/17286184-as-rape-trial-opens-prosecutor-says-girl-was-too-impaired-to-say-no?lite&

  • Liz
    3:31 am on March 14th, 2013 21

    There is actually a modicum of proof that the event in Ohio happened.

  • Bobby Ray
    4:32 am on March 14th, 2013 22

    Now I ain’t making no kind of judgement here but I got a question. If the police come to my door and wind up asking if they can take a lookieloo around and I’m all drunk and I say go ahead help yourself. Well if they find moonshine and god knows what else can I get that evidence all tossed out of court if I say that I was too drunk to give consent? Or they got different standards if they is protecting the drunk girl or poking through your things lookin for trouble?

  • Ole Tanker.
    7:44 pm on April 1st, 2013 23

    Now we find out that this guy FAILED a lie detector. The Genral must not trust instruments! Bad habit for a pilot.

  • JoeC
    8:24 pm on April 8th, 2013 24

    Hagel: Change UCMJ to deny commanders ability to overturn verdicts

    It’s just a recommendation from a review.

    “Changing the UCMJ, which allows court-martial convening authorities to overturn verdicts or reduce sentences, would require action by Congress.”

    Which means, under the current dysfunctional state of the Congress, nothing will change.

 

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