A former commanding officer of the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has been charged with with obstruction of justice and other offenses relating to the 2015 death of a civilian employee, federal prosecutors announced Wednesday.
According to court documents filed in Florida federal court, Capt. John R. Nettleton faces two counts of obstruction of justice, one count of concealment of material facts, two counts of falsification of records and five counts of making false statements to investigators looking into the death of Christopher Tur. According to the indictment, Tur disappeared on the night of Jan. 9, 2015 after attending a party at which he accused Nettleton of having an affair with Tur's wife. Tur's body was found in the waters of Guantanamo Bay two days later, on Jan. 11.
Prosecutors claim Nettleton lied to investigators about an affair with Tur's wife, as well as getting into a physical altercation with Tur following the party. The indictment also says that investigators found a paper towel stained with Tur's blood near a pier in Nettleton's backyard on the base. According to the document, Nettleton was close by when investigators recovered the paper towel and told them, "That's probably nothing." Investigators later found bloodstains that matched Tur's DNA in Nettleton's home.
An autopsy found that Tur, 42, died from drowning but that he had broken ribs suffered before he went into the water and a cut to his head.
The Associated Press reported that Nettleton was arrested Wednesday in Jacksonville, Fla. When contacted by Fox News, attorney Colby Vokey said: "Capt. Nettleton is innocent and he looks forward to the opportunity to rebut these allegations in court. This is something that has been hanging over his head for a long time."
Tur's older brother, Michael, welcomed the indictment. Nettleton is "facing some serious felony charges," he told the AP. "It's not a homicide charge, but he's facing some serious jail time."
Nettleton was relieved of command on Jan. 21, 2015, ten days after Tur's body was found. Prosecutors say he spoke with Tur's widow several times between his command relief and November 2016. During those conversations, Tur's widow allegedly said she would refuse to testify against Nettleton in a court-martial proceeding, "which Nettleton said was 'good to hear.'"
Nettleton commanded the Navy base, but had no role in the operation of the Guantanamo Bay detention center, which is located on the base and run by a joint task force. His tenure as commanding officer at Guantanamo Bay began in June 2012.
Tur came to Guantanamo in May 2011 with his wife, Lara, and two children and worked as the loss prevention safety manager at the Navy Exchange, the main shopping complex on the base.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.