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Soldier is acquitted of assault, firearm charges

By Jeremy Craig| Staff Writer
May 27, 2004

A Fort Gordon military panel handed down an acquittal Wednesday to a soldier accused of shooting at a group of fellow soldiers at a barracks complex this winter.

Pvt. Joseph William Powell III, of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center’s Medical Hold Company, was found not guilty of charges of assault and wrongfully discharging a firearm, said Marla Jones, a civilian public affairs officer at the installation.

The government alleged that Pvt. Powell fired a gun at the room where Spc. Leslye Hampton, Spc. Natasha Bess and Pfc. Tamara Young were Feb. 28.

Ms. Jones said Pvt. Powell was found guilty on lesser charges.

Those charges included making provoking gestures, for pouring beer over Spc. Hampton’s head during an argument, damaging military property and failing to register a privately owned handgun.

Ms. Jones said the soldier was sentenced to the 87 days he had already spent in military confinement and was given a $500 fine and a reprimand.

Under military law, two-thirds of the panel had to agree in order to find Pvt. Powell guilty of a particular charge.

During the three-day court-martial, the government presented multiple witnesses and evidence.. The defense questioned the credibility of the witnesses throughout the court-martial, and touched on their credibility again during closing arguments Wednesday.

“They’re a bunch of storytellers,” said Capt. Michael Waddington, Pvt. Powell’s military defense attorney. “And they told those stories, a bunch of which are ridiculous.”

Capt. Mary Higgins, a prosecution lawyer, told the court that despite this, the evidence supported a conviction.

“The defense wants you to believe this is all a result of shoddy police work,” she said. “The evidence is clear: There was a soldier with a weapon.”


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