Thursday, December 07, 2006

Kaiserslautern trial in beating death focuses on black gang initiation

Steve Mraz:

Spc. Bobby Morrissette

Damage to Sgt. Juwan Johnson’s heart was not the only injury that caused the 25-year-old soldier’s death on July 4, 2005, according to testimony Wednesday from the medical examiner who performed an autopsy.

Johnson, who was assigned to the Kaiserslautern-based 66th Transportation Company at the time of his death, also had brain injury. His cause of death was ruled as multiple blunt force injuries, said Air Force Col. (Dr.) Kathleen Ingwersen, Armed Forces Regional medical examiner.

The testimony came during an Article 32 investigation for Spc. Bobby D. Morrissette, who is charged with murder in the beating death of Johnson during an alleged initiation ceremony into the Gangster Disciples, a Chicago-based gang. The hearing concluded Wednesday afternoon, and a recommendation will be made to determine if the case should proceed to court-martial.

A second soldier, Pfc. Latisha Ellis, has been charged with murder and violating Army regulations on gang-related activities in connection with Johnson’s death. She faces a maximum sentence of life without parole. An Article 32 hearing for Ellis is scheduled in early February.

Johnson’s gang initiation ceremony allegedly took place late on July 3, 2005. Johnson was found dead the next day in his barracks room on Kleber Kaserne.

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