Judge Orders Investigator for Defense of Soldier Accused of Killing Superiors in Iraq

A judge ordered the government Friday to pay for an independent investigator who will help prepare a defense for a soldier accused of killing two superior officers in Iraq.

Military judge Col. Patrick Parrish granted the request after lawyers for Staff Sgt. Alberto Martinez complained Army investigators haven't cooperated with them.

Martinez, 39, of Troy, N.Y., is the only soldier known to be charged with killing his superior officer, also known as "fragging," during the Iraq war. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

He is accused of killing Capt. Phillip Esposito, 30, of Suffern, N.Y., and 1st Lt. Louis Allen, 34, of Milford, Pa., by setting off grenades and a mine in their room at one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces in June 2005. The pair were his superior officers in the 42nd Infantry Division of the New York National Guard.

Parrish gave the defense until Jan. 19 to recommend an investigator to be hired. Before issuing his ruling, he noted that a civilian defendant in a death penalty case could be given an independent investigator at government expense.

Last year, a jury at Fort Bragg sentenced Sgt. Hasan Akbar to death for killing two officers and wounding 14 soldiers in March 2003, when he threw grenades into troop tents and fired on soldiers. He was not directly under the command of the officers who were killed.