Tag Archives: Fort Leavenworth

Believed Innocent, Man Could Leave Prison After 36 Years

Imagine the prospect of being released from prison after spending 36 years behind bars for a crime you did not commit. Sixty-nine-year-old Michael Hanline might get to find out what that feels like next week.

According to news reports like this one, the Ventura (Calif.) County District Attorney’s office announced Tuesday that new evidence had resulted in a judge overturning the conviction — highlighted in the California Innocence Project video above — that had sent Hanline to prison in 1980 after he was found guilty of first-degree murder in J.T. McGarry’s 1978 death.

In this article (below), CIP offers more details of events related to Hanline’s case:

On October 22, 2010, after a lengthy evidentiary hearing and complete review of all of the evidence in the case, United States District Court Magistrate Judge Andrew Wistrich issued a report in Michael’s case, recommending that his conviction be overturned. Judge Wistrich emphasized how the prosecution, investigators, and Robertson had colluded to violate Michael’s constitutional right to have exculpatory information turned over to the defense. Judge Wistrich wrote, “The prosecution was so successful in violating the trial court’s orders and its constitutional obligation that by the time the exculpatory evidence came to light – nearly three decades later – many of the important witnesses had died or disappeared . . . Permitting the prosecutor to engage in this sort of gamesmanship with impunity signals that the constitutional rules established in Brady and its progeny are merely ‘pretend rules’ that need not be taken seriously.”

Collusion between investigators and prosecution attorneys? Violating a defendant’s Constitutional rights? The wrongs alleged to have taken place during Hanline’s case appear strikingly similar to those that took place during the court-martial of Army Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart during three days in August 2009.

Once an elite Green Beret and highly-decorated combat veteran, Stewart sees no light at the end of his tunnel and finds himself living under a cloud today, branded as a sex offender for life after being convicted on sexual assault-related charges and sentenced to eight years behind bars at the U.S. Military Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. He lives under a cloud as the result of being falsely accused by a then-28-year-old German woman who, according to testimony given by her friends during a post-trial hearing, lied several times while on the witness stand during Stewart’s court-martial.

To learn more about Stewart and why this man who served his country with honor should have never been prosecuted or convicted, order and read Three Days In August.

To provide financial assistance to Stewart and his family, click on the “DONATE” button at SaveThisSoldier.com, a website built and managed by Stewart’s dad, himself retired after more than 30 years of service in Air Force Special Operations.

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.

Fellow Soldiers Support Wrongly-Convicted Green Beret

I interviewed Army Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart several times and have gotten to know him well during the past three years, but I will probably never know the former Green Beret as well as the Soldiers with whom he served combat tours in places like Kosovo and Iraq. After Stewart was tried and found guilty on bogus sexual assault-related charges during three days in August 2009, many of his brothers-in-arms wrote letters of support on his behalf.

Click graphic above to read letters written by Soldiers in support of Kelly A. Stewart (PDF).

Click graphic above to read letters written by Soldiers in support of Kelly A. Stewart (PDF).

Written by an Army officer who was serving with Stewart at the time he was accused of raping and kidnapping a then-28-year-old German woman, one of those letters (see excerpt below) addresses a few — but not all — of the problems with the prosecution that resulted in Stewart being sentenced to eight years confinement at the U.S. Military Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan:

Having testified at the trial, my greatest disappointment was his conviction without forensic evidence, without consideration of the alleged victim’s psychiatric history, and his conviction without consideration for why the victim left her phone number and never left the hotel room following sexual contact with PVT Stewart. I feel that some in the jury may have confused their disdain for PVT Stewart’s violation of his marriage covenant with his guilt as a violent sexual criminal. He was not on trial for adultery.*

Unfortunately, letters like the one above seemed to carry little weight with Army officials who considered them alongside other documents submitted as part of Stewart’s Request for Clemency packet.

While the letters spoke volumes about the respect Stewart earned from his fellow Soldiers, other pieces of information I pored over — including the Record of Trialconvinced me beyond a shadow of a doubt that the highly-decorated Stewart is a victim of the military justice system bowing to political correctness and pressure from the German government.

To learn more about why Stewart, a man who served his country honorably, should have never been prosecuted, more less convicted, order and read Three Days In August.

To provide financial assistance to Stewart and his family, click on the “DONATE” button at SaveThisSoldier.com, a website built and managed by Stewart’s dad, himself retired after more than 30 years of service in Air Force Special Operations.

*Editor’s Note: Stewart is referred to as a private in the excerpt above, because his sentence included a demotion to the Army’s lowest enlisted rank as well as prison time and a dishonorable discharge.

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.