The Army Blotter: Home robbery claims Guardsman, Richardson "spice" crime, and "Capt. Bribes" guilty

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  • Tulsa police say a 17-year-old boy has been arrested and a second person is being sought in the shooting death of an Oklahoma Guardsman Jerry Lee VanEllen, 38, during a home invasion. Police said the men entered the family’s home through an unlocked garage door, held VanEllen, his wife, brother and two children at gunpoint.  Vanellen chased the intruders outside through the front door and one of the men shot at him twice, hitting him once in the chest. [via Tulsa World]
  • U.S. Army Alaska says it has punished 36 soldiers for the use of synthetic marijuana since it banned the substance. Seven soldiers were tried at courts-martial, and 29 received nonjudicial punishments. In March, a Fort Richardson soldier who recently returned from Iraq was convicted of driving under the influence of Spice after he drove over three raised medians, into a concrete wall and down a sidewalk with flat tires and a broken axle. [Fairbanks Daily News-Miner]
  • A jury convicted Capt. Bryant Williams of both counts of bribing and accepting kickbacks from military contractors in Iraq from 2005 to 2006. Williams, a former procurement official, denied taking a “penny” in kickbacks from contractors. He said that the tens of thousands of dollars in his possession came from months of winnings at the card game Tonka, and that he hid the winnings from the Army because it violated policy. [via Courthouse News]
  • The Pentagon pushed back against news reports that allege WikiLeaker Pfc. Bradley Manning is being mistreated, calling the accusations “blatantly false.” The renewed scrutiny into Manning’s treatment, which included whether he is being held in solitary confinement, comes amid reports like one in Salon, charging that “Manning has been subjected for many months without pause to inhuman, personality-erasing, soul-destroying, insanity-inducing conditions of isolation.” A Pentagon spokesman says Manning is being held alone in a cell, “But just being in a cell by yourself doesn’t constitute solitary confinement … He is surrounded by other people” in adjacent cells. [via Christian Science Monitor and Salon]
  • Army witnesses in an Afghan war crimes case were housed together, letting them coordinate their stories, lawyers say. Spc. Jeremy Morlock, Cpl. Emmitt Quintal and Spc. Adam Winfield were put in the same quarters while still in Afghanistan for their own safety. Now that the soldiers are jailed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Wash., defense attorneys say they used their time to work out their stories. The attorneys are challenging statements they gave in May on the grounds they are filled with hearsay. [via UPI]
  • Federal officials are suing a Wisconsin foundry for its alleged failure to properly re-employ an Army reservist Vincent Herzog after he returned from military service in Afghanistan. [via Post Crescent]
  • A Detroit-area man wrongly suspected of spying for Israel has failed to persuade a federal court to reinstate a lawsuit against the government. The engineer, who works at an Army tank command in Warren, Mich., was never formally accused of spying for Israel but has said the investigation hurt his career. [via Associated Press/Michigan Live]
  • Sgt. Anthony Burch, 34, ultimately committed suicide after almost losing his life in Iraq, becoming addicted to prescription pain medications and conducting a nine-hour-plus armed standoff with police in 2009. The Daily Press & Argus looks at the Michigan Army National Guardsman’s story and other suicides connected to PTSD. [via Daily Press & Argus]
  • An Iraq War veteran serving five life terms for raping and killing a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and killing her parents and sister says he didn’t think of Iraqi civilians as humans after being exposed to extreme war zone violence. Steven Dale Green, a 25-year-old former 101st Airborne soldier, told The Associated Press in his first media interview since the 2006 killings, his training to kill, the rampant violence and other soldiers’ comments against Iraqis served to dehumanize that country’s civilians. A turning point came Dec. 10, 2005, when a previously friendly Iraqi killed two of his buddies. He received counseling and a mood-regulating drug afterward, but felt abandoned by the Army. “If I hadn’t ever been in Iraq, I wouldn’t be in the kind of trouble I’m in now,” Green said. “I’m not happy about that.” [via Associated Press/Dallas News]
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