Monday, March 15, 2004

Army Pvt. Kidnapped and Konvicted at Kangaroo Kourt-martial: The case of Army Pvt. Corey J. Cox

A country is measured by the way it treats its soldiers
by Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III
March 15, 2004

SILVERDALE, WA. – Corey Cox’s Jan. 2001 arrest by Norman, Oklahoma police was unremarkable in our age of reality TV. Cox was with a friend when local civilian cops raided the apartment where he was staying during a civilian police undercover sting operation. Ecstasy and other drug paraphernalia were seized in the living room while Corey slept in a bedroom.

Cox was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and rounded up with everyone else. But following the civilian arrest Corey was never connected with use or distribution of the drugs, charges leveled against him. All Norman, OK. prosecutors discovered was that Corey was a disc jockey who “spun vinyl” at “raves,” local late night party gatherings where Ecstasy was freely distributed and used.

Army commanders took over jurisdiction of the Cox prosecution in August 2001 after civilian law enforcement officials failed to make any part of their case stick after seven months investigative effort.

Although Corey Cox was arrested in the civilian community, in civilian clothes, by civilian cops, Corey just so happened to be a soldier on active duty assigned to the Army’s nearby field artillery center, Ft. Sill.

Pvt. Cox and two other soldiers were publicly re-arrested and handcuffed by military authorities on 9 August 2001 in front of nearly 700 troops. Lt. Col. Anthony Daskevich ordered the humiliating arrest with the concurrence and approval of Ft. Sill’s commanding general, Toney Strickland.

Captain Marcus Jones choreographed the public arrest working with military prosecutors, MPs, and special agents from the Army’s Criminal Investigative Division at Ft. Sill.

According to Jones “the idea behind [the public arrest and] questioning…was the fear that [Cox and other troops] were about to be implicated by one of their peers would push them into providing CID information.” (Emphasis my own)

Cpt. Jones announced to the mass assembly, while they all watched Cox being handcuffed, that Cox was guilty, was going to be prosecuted at general court-martial (GCM), and that government prosecutors would “win” a conviction. Jones further threatened the 700 soldiers hectoring, “I told you all what would happen [to you] when you get involved with drugs in my [unit].”

Cpt. Jones was speaking to potential jury members at the time. Standing off to the side was Cpt. Ruth Vetter, one of the government prosecutors.

Cox and the two other soldiers were hauled off to CID offices. Cox was held late into the night, and then released to walk back to his barracks miles away. CID agents turned up nothing during questioning. No charges were filed.

A military police investigator named Farmer described CID’s public arrest of Corey as a “kidnapping” and unlawful imprisonment. However, Farmer refused to advance a criminal complaint as required by the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

CO Jones brought charges against Pvt. Cox anyway, 11 days later on 20 Aug 01. This despite a total lack of evidence. Jones and Army prosecutors used Norman police reports and allied papers as subterfuge.

The suggestion or appearance that Cox was involved in the local drug trade was all Army commanders needed to use Cox as an example for other troops.

There was no investigation by federal agents - just the kidnapping and unlawful detention.

Commanding General Michael D. Maples convened court-martial acting on the Jones complaint. Cox’s two-day, hours long trial began on 18 Dec 2001.

Cox’s assigned military attorney, Cpt. Ricardo “Rick” Diaz abandoned Cox thirty minutes before the trial began. Diaz gave no on record explanation to the military judge.

Corey plead “not guilty.”

There was no jury.

When called to the stand, Norman police Detective Jose Chavez failed to identify Pvt. Cox in open court. Det. Chavez was the only police officer to testify against Cox and was in charge of the Jan. 2001 apartment raid the night Cox was first taken into custody.

When asked, Chavez pointed to Cox and identified him as “the gentleman--actually, the gentleman in civilian attire.”

Pvt. Cox was in uniform.

No physical evidence was introduced.

Cpt. Jones, Cox's CO and accuser, did not testify.

All of Corey’s constitutional and military justice procedural protections designed to safeguard innocents by identifying fatally flawed prosecutions and stop bogus cases from advancing to GCM were materially obstructed.

During trial, Col. (military judge) Gary Casida, stepped out of his neutral, unbiased role as independent trier of fact to guide and assist inexperienced and incompetent Army prosecutors.

While under investigation by Norman police, CID agents pressed Pvt. Cox to assist them in their law enforcement pursuits against other soldiers suspected participating in the drug trade around Ft. Sill. Cox was strong-armed into becoming CID confidential informant, a “CI.”

Pvt. Cox assisted undercover federal agents in a controlled drug transaction and arrest of Pvt. Adam Whitelaw. The drug sting was under CID authority and supervision. Cox worked under narcotics investigator William C. Johnson. Cox was instrumental in effecting arrests in a total of three controlled drug buys (of all those attempted) from January through March 2001. Cox met with CID agent Johnson 2-3 times each week and was on the phone with Johnson repeatedly.

Army prosecutors called Pvt. Whitelaw to testify against Pvt. Cox during Cox’s trial.

CID agent Johnson testified as a defense witness.

Judge Casida found Cox guilty and sentenced him to six years in a military prison. Army prosecutors asked for ten years behind bars.

Cox was incarcerated for 16 months at the Regional Correctional Facility, Ft. Lewis, WA.

Congressman Norm Dicks, Adam Smith, Duncan Hunter, and John Shadegg; and Senators Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell, John McCain, and Jon Kyl are aware of this outrage and of the abuse and torment visited upon Corey and his family. These lawmakers sit on their hands, doing nothing.

Pvt. Cox was released and is left on his own in the fight to clear his name.

Copyright 2004


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