Published March 16, 2005
FORT CARSON, Colo. – An Army captain accused of terrorizing an Iraqi town under his supervision was convicted Wednesday of assaulting Iraqis, but acquitted of charges stemming from an alleged assault of one of his own soldiers.
Shawn L. Martin (search) was convicted of two assault counts and an aggravated assault count. A jury of seven officers found Martin innocent of other counts of assault, aggravated assault, obstruction of justice and conduct unbecoming of an officer.
Martin had faced up to 441/2 years in prison and loss of his military pension if convicted of all charges. He could receive six months in prison for each assault conviction, and eight years for the aggravated assault count.
He was convicted for an assault that happened at a police station; another on a firefighter who responded when a Humvee was damaged by a land mine; and an aggravated assault (search) case involving a welder taken out to the desert and told to provide information on weapons caches — or start digging his own grave.
The same jury will decide Martin's sentence when it reconvenes Thursday. The defense could present witnesses to ask for clemency.
Witnesses testified Martin kicked and screamed at Iraqi civilians, threatened to shoot detainees, pointed a gun at the head of one of his sergeants and told another soldier not to discuss what he had seen.
In his closing statement, prosecutor Maj. Tiernen Dolan likened Martin to a small-town sheriff ruling the Iraqi town of Ar Rutbah (search) with a baseball bat and a 9 mm pistol.
"He's a captain in the U.S. Army. He's not Buford Pusser from some small town, walking tall," Dolan said in reference to the 1973 movie "Walking Tall."
Defense attorney John P. Galligan (search) accused the Army of conducting a sloppy investigation, saying prosecutors couldn't even name the Iraqis whom Martin was accused of attacking.
He said Martin wasn't given adequate resources to supervise Ar Rutbah, a town of 25,000 in the western Iraqi desert.
"These decisions were made in a war, a new kind of war we are still learning from," Galligan said in his closing statement.
Martin took the stand Tuesday and denied misconduct.
"I never intended and never committed any violent offense against anyone," he said.