Jury finds airman guilty
By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on July 11, 2013 1:46 PM
The military panel in the court- martial of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Tech Sgt. Floyd M. Jeter returned this morning with a verdict of guilty on four of the five charges.
The case was officially turned over to the military jury at about 3 p.m. Wednesday following closing arguments by both sides.
On Wednesday, the prosecution rested after quickly calling two more witnesses. The defense rested without presenting a case.
Before closing arguments began, military judge Lt. Col. Josh Kastenberg listed the charges and how each one related to the case.
Jeter was found guilty by a five-member panel, which was comprised of three men and two women, ranking between master sergeant and captain on the charges of:
* Making false official statements was in regard to Jeter's denial to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations that he had threatened his then-girlfriend -- now former girlfriend -- in October 2011.
* Destroying or damaging non-military property was in regard to Jeter's alleged action of putting sugar in the gas tank of his then-wife's -- now ex-wife -- car following a dispute in May 2008.
* Rape, which had two specifications. The first, rape using force, was in regard to Jeter's alleged action of pulling his then-wife by her ponytail back into their house and forcing her to have sex with him in December 2007. The second, rape causing grievous bodily harm, was in regard to Jeter's alleged action of fighting with his then-girlfriend, pushing her against a wall and then forcing her to have sex, at one point while their son was nursing in August 2012.
* Obstructing of justice, which was in regard to Jeter's alleged action of forging and sending himself an email from his then-girlfriend's Gmail account apologizing for and recanting the rape allegations in August 2012.
He was found not guilty on the charge of assault consummated by battery, which was in regard to Jeter's alleged action of throwing a cellphone at his then-wife, hitting her with it on the back, as well as the specification of kidnapping, which was in regard to Jeter's alleged action of keeping his then-girlfriend locked with him in a bathroom for hours as they fought and he threatened her life in September 2011
During its closing arguments, the defense sought to continue to question the motives and behavior of the victims.
At issue in terms of motives, the defense argued, is the fact that Jeter and his former girlfriend are in a custody dispute over their 17-month-old son, while Jeter's ex-wife was forced to file bankruptcy after he ruined her credit and is still on their house's mortgage because he won't take steps to remove her name.
However, the prosecution argued, none of those facts would motivate two women, who, while known to each other, are not friends, to both come into a courtroom and accuse Jeter of rape.
The defense pointed out, though, that the two women had shown a pattern of lying.
In terms of the ex-wife, they alleged that she had lied to OSI about whether or not she had gone back to the house after her alleged rape -- that she had told them she had not, when she clearly had.
In terms of the former girlfriend, the defense pointed out that after the bathroom incident was reported to OSI by a mutual acquaintance, she had recanted the story. They also pointed out several small inconsistencies between her statements and testimonies regarding the bathroom incident and the rape to OSI.
The prosecution, on the other had, argued that the former girlfriend had recanted the kidnapping story in order to try to work things out with her baby's father.
The defense team also pressed their earlier points that there was a lack of physical evidence of a struggle during the rapes and that both women had opportunity to fight back more vigorously or try harder to escape their homes and didn't -- important, defense attorney Capt. Mary Wood explained, when determining whether force was used by the defendant.
"It doesn't make sense," she said. "The government's case just doesn't make sense. It certainly doesn't add up to proof beyond a reasonable doubt."
Rather, she pointed Jeter's statement to OSI investigators after the alleged rape of the former girlfriend as a "reasonable alternative to the liar on the stand."
However, prosecuting attorney Capt. Brent Jones called the defense team's arguments "red herrings."
"You have to put everything in context and you have to determine if you believe it," he said. "Tech. Sgt. Jeter did not care what (the ex-wife) or (the former girlfriend) wanted. He wanted one thing and went and got it," he told the panel at the start of his closing arguments. "If a woman doesn't want to have sex, she doesn't have to have sex. It doesn't matter."
The sentencing phase of the court-martial is scheduled to begin this afternoon.