FORT BRAGG, N.C. — Seven paratroopers charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of a soldier at Fort Bragg are not being held in jail as they await investigative hearings, a spokesman with the 82nd Airborne Division said Tuesday.
Master Sgt. Thomas Clementson said the soldiers, who also face conspiracy to commit battery charges, are under the control of their unit and have access to military defense lawyers. All seven were charged Monday in the July death of Pfc. Luke Brown of Fredericksburg, Va.
Brown, 27, an intelligence analyst, was found unresponsive July 20 in a car on the Army post. Army detectives are treating the death as a homicide but the Army medical examiner ruled the cause and manner of death undetermined, Clementson said.
No details on the investigation have been released. Article 32 hearings, the equivalent of civilian grand jury inquiries, haven’t been set. Under military law, involuntary manslaughter carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.
The division identified the soldiers charged as Sgts. Christopher Mignocchi, Kyle G. Saltz and Justin A. Boyle; Spcs. Ryan Sullivan, Joseph A. Misuraca and Charles B. DeLong; and Pfc. Andrey Udalov. Their ages and hometowns haven’t been released.
The seven men are assigned to the division’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company. Brown also was assigned to the unit.
Boyle and Sullivan also are charged with communicating a threat, and Mignocchi and Udalov are charged with obstructing justice, the division said.
Under the military justice system, a commander decides whether charges are brought and whether a trial will be held. Referred to as the convening authority, 82nd Airborne Division commander Maj. Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti will have that responsibility in this case.
It’s unusual to see so many soldiers charged in a death case, said Michelle Lindo McCluer, a former military lawyer and executive director of the Washington-based National Institute of Military Justice.
“When I first saw how many there were I thought, ‘Did he get really drunk and they left him in the car,”’ said McCluer, who isn’t connected to the case.
She said it wasn’t unusual for military members to remain free until their cases are heard.
“In order to put folks in pretrial confinement, they have to believe they’ve done a pretty serious crime and there’s some ongoing danger, or if they’re a flight risk,” McCluer said. “The argument is the military has so many other means of keeping you under control and most bases these days don’t have confinement facilities.”