FORT DRUM — Soldiers across the Army are expressing their outrage today after 1st Sgt. Grant Sullivan was found not guilty in a case of murder in the first degree, citing an obscure military regulation dating back from the time of the Civil War. Sullivan was arrested on Jun. 9, 2013, after he shot Pvt. Martin Wembly in the head with his 9mm pistol during an altercation on a live fire range.
“The little shit was always at an appointment, or claiming he needed to talk to a counselor every time I needed him to do something,” Sullivan explained after his arrest. “Of course when I would tell him the only appointments available were on a Friday afternoon he’d suddenly feel a lot better."
"I swear to God I think he was bribing the PA to sign all those profile slips. Who the hell can’t take a PT test because of vertigo?” he asked.
Witnesses to the fatal altercation stated that Wembly, widely recognized as a "shammer," refused to join the range police call, claiming he had a condition aggravated by "dust and other allergens."
“1st Sgt. got real quiet, then pulled out this old-ass looking handbook and flipped through a few pages,” said Spc. Thomas Edgewater, who was present during the event.
“Next thing I know, Wembly was on his knees blubbering and 1st Sgt. had a gun pointed at his head. Then it was over. It took almost an hour to clean up the mess,” Edgewater shuddered at the memory.
During the trial Sullivan’s lawyer argued that Article 17.2 in the War Department Manual for Military Justice, established in 1847, allowed a senior commissioned or non-commissioned officer to exercise capital punishment when the nation was at war or in a period of sustained conflict. US involvement in the War on Terror met the criteria, and since the law had never been formally repealed by the newer Uniform Code of Military Justice, it was still valid. The jury, made up of senior military personnel, unanimously agreed.
Though Wembly’s family and Specialists Without Borders, the lobby group for junior enlisted soldiers, were in an uproar over the verdict, the Pentagon supported Sullivan and the outcome of the trial.
In a prepared statement, Pentagon Spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said, "While the Department of Defense believes summary execution to be an extreme and usually unnecessary measure in most disciplinary cases, the Chief of Staff applauds 1st Sgt. Sullivan’s thorough understanding of military regulations and encourages all non-commissioned officers to attain the same level of legal proficiency."