Two soldiers linked to the unsolved 2020 mystery surrounding the beheading of Spc. Enrique Roman-Martinez was sentenced by court-martial after being charged with conspiracy, disobeying orders and other non-violent offences.
The convictions came two years after a group of seven soldiers went camping with Roman-Martinez on Memorial Day weekend 2020. The group reported him missing on May 23, 2020 and less than a week later the leader of Roman-Martinez wash ashore near Shackleford Banks Island, part of North Carolina’s Outer Banks, just west of where the soldiers were camped.
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Roman-Martinez, 21, was assigned as a human resources specialist with the 82nd Airborne Division. He was originally from Chino, California.
The case remained unsolved, with the cause of Roman-Martinez’s death still unknown despite authorities treating the case as a homicide.
The Seven Soldiers who went camping with Roman-Martinez faced minor charges – disobeying orders, conspiracy or drug use – but both convictions mark firsts for anyone involved in the case.
sergeant. Samuel Moore, the most senior soldier in the group, was found guilty on Friday July 15 of conspiracy and two counts of misrepresentation. He was demoted to the rank of specialist and sentenced to lose two-thirds of his pay for a month. It’s unclear when – if at all – he will be separated from the military.
SPC. Alex Becerra was convicted in June of three counts of disobeying a superior officer and one count of unlawful use of a controlled substance. He was previously charged with conspiracy and making false statements, according to Army public records, but was acquitted.
The army confirmed that Becerra had received a demotion to private rank and had been separated from the army, but did not confirm the qualification of his release citing confidentiality concerns. The Fayetteville Observer was the first to publish details of his court-martial, but his expulsion from the army was not previously reported.
The military maintains that the convictions are not directly related to Roman-Martinez’s death.
“These charges are related to their actions at the time of his death but not related to his death,” Fort Bragg spokesman Lt. Col. Brett Lea said in an email to Military.com.
The other five soldiers were charged with minor offenses but were not convicted.
The soldiers who accompanied Roman-Martinez on the excursion all made the trip despite a COVID-19 lockdown protocol at their Fort Bragg base.
An autopsy would have ruled Roman-Martinez’s death was a homicide, but medical examiners could not determine the cause. The Army’s Criminal Investigation Division is investigating the case as a homicide, but has classified his death as a Case closed.
army time reported that just hours before calling 911 on May 23, 2020 to report their friend missing, the group of soldiers encountered US Park Rangers who asked them to move their vehicles. When calling 911, one of the soldiers said the group had been searching for the missing paratrooper all day, trying to locate park rangers for help.
CID previously said officers investigated the soldiers for drug use.
The military has also come under fire over the case, with Roman-Martinez’s family reports a month after the camping trip, law enforcement had not provided information, and the CID released confusing details about the case.
In August 2021, the CID hinted that Roman-Martinez could have been hit by a boat.
“Please understand that a homicide essentially means that someone’s death was caused by someone else,” CID Special Agent Steve Chancellor said in a press release. . “This means the death could have been intentional or unintentional – for example in this case someone ran someone over with a boat while the person was in the water etc.”
The CID continues to to offer a $50,000 reward for information related to the case.
— Drew F. Lawrence can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @df_lawrence.
Related: Army offers cash reward for information on slain 82nd Airborne Trooper
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