Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Silence Is Not Golden

It is now almost two months since the verdict that acquitted Alberto Martinez of his responsibility for the murder of my husband. I am still standing, but I am also still struggling to understand all that has happened and the reasons behind it.

A few weeks ago, I sent the following message to the members of the military jury that sat in judgment of Martinez.

I understand that my friend Barbara has contacted you and I wanted to do the same. I am writing you to ask for your assistance.

I recognize that the rules governing courts martial preclude you from discussing your deliberations in the trial of my husband's accused murderer and I respect your obligations under these rules. Nevertheless, for my own peace of mind and the peace of mind of my daughter, who I will soon have to explain all that has occurred as a result of the death of her father, I respectfully ask that you share with me your thoughts about the trial in which you served. I specifically ask that you share with me your personal estimate of the evidence presented in court.

I have reviewed the instructions that you have been given and I believe that you can share your opinions with me and do so without violating your instructions not to discuss your deliberations or the deliberations of your fellow panel members. I ask that you do as much, even as I recognize that it may be uncomfortable for you to open yourself in this way.

We sat in the courtroom together. I saw your face and you saw mine. I doubt that I need to impress upon you what the death of my husband has done to my life. What I need now is the ability to reconcile all that has happened. Good or bad, I ask that you help give me the ability to put all the facts in their proper place so that I may continue with my life. You have that power.

Not knowing or understanding is torture. I ask you to grant me some relief.

If you wish for me not to communicate with you further please let me know and I will honor that wish. My purpose is not to intrude or make you uncomfortable. My purpose is to understand.


Siobhan Esposito

Two jurors subsequently contacted me. Hearing from them has helped me--it has helped me to understand that I was not fully alone in the courtroom for those two months of trial. I thank them for their willingness to speak to me.

I do not thank the individuals behind the following message that I received via my attorney (I have redacted the personal information of the SJA and my attorney):

From: USA FORSCOM [mailto]
Sent: Mon 1/26/2009 3:26 PM
To: My Attorney

Subject: Contact with Panel Members (UNCLASSIFIED)

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

[My attorney],

Mrs. Esposito and Mrs. Allen have been e-mailing the panel members requesting information about the trial. Please inform the spouses that the following panel members do not want to be contacted:

COL Fiorey
LTC Crespo
LTC Bowsher
MAJ Burton
MAJ Crespo
SGM Wilson
SFC Evans

I will pass on any other names of members who inform me that they do not desire further contact.



Chief, Criminal Law Division
Office of the Staff Judge Advocate
XVIII Airborne Corps
Fort Bragg, North Carolina
In my e-mail, I had addressed each juror individually. Each had an opportunity to respond to me even if only to say that they wished not to communicate. Rather than face me head on like I deserve to be faced, these jurors have decided to have the Staff Judge Advocate speak for them.

The silence is deafening. Why did these officers and NCO’s feel that there was nothing they could say to me? The military judge’s gag order only limits the jurors from talking about their deliberations. What does this say for the current leadership in the Army? One of the values the Army loves to tout when it is convenient for them is personal courage which is egregiously absent in this instance.

* * *

All this serves as yet another reminder of the massive dereliction of duty that resulted in the murder of Phillip and Lou and that perpetuates this injustice. Where was the Army four years ago about enforcing good order and discipline? Where was the Army when my husband asked for its help? Instead it let two exemplary officers get brutally murdered while its members stood by and let it happen.

My husband has been failed by his Army peers, by the former president and vice president of the United States, our current secretary of state, Senator Lieberman and the Adjutant General of New York. The list keeps getting longer and longer--and all in the name of what? I am afraid to contact my representatives from the state of Virginia because I don't think that I can handle the list getting any longer.

There is no excuse for this morally reprehensible conduct—not for the verdict, not for the time up to the trial, not for the time after it and not for everything that allowed this pointless crime to happen in the first place.

I am told that I need to move on and put all this in the past. I know that as much is said to Barbara as well. Others seem to be able to live in a state of denial and without so much as an afterthought. Barbara and I continue to be less fortunate.


Nicholas Provenzo said...

I continue to be amazed by the fallout from this case.

Men and women who train to face the dangers of the battlefield should not wilt when confronted by the widow of a murdered solider. They should stand their ground and explain themselves plainly. The families of the dead deserve nothing less and the dishonorable seven that Mrs. Esposito lists here should be absolutely ashamed of themselves.

JetJock said...

I concur with Mr. Provenzo. It's absolutely unconscionable that these members of our military cannot stand up and account for their actions.

Mrs. Esposito is not asking them to change their minds; she's not asking them to justify their positions. She's only asking to understand why the same evidence she heard in court wasn't sufficient to convict this murderer. If they tell her, "I'm sorry, but what I heard regarding [this, this and this] didn't convince me of his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt," she would most likely accept it, while not necessarily agreeing with it.

Perhaps the prosecution wasn't able to present all of its evidence. Maybe there were valid reasons for the judge to exclude crucial pieces of evidence. But the jury members should have the guts to stand up and at least say so. It's nothing but cowardly to hide behind the JAG, and they SHOULD be ashamed. As a retired Air Force officer, I'm extremely disappointed in their actions.

stephanie said...

How do the widows explain to their children what happened to their fathers? That is one of the questions the widows wanted answered. In addition fo finding out what went wrong. They deserve to know. They sat there day after day, hour after hour, listening to some very difficult testimony as to what happened to their husbands. Don't you really think the ARMY owed that to all of the family. They don't have any answers and Martinex is free. He survived this and Cpt.Esposito and Lt. Allen did not. What a cover-up by the ARMY. Did the jurors rush to judgement because the JUDGE had to go to GITMO? If they did May God help them. I do hope they do not have children or a spouse that gets deployed to a war zone. They truly did not listen to the testimony.

I read and reread all the evidence and had I been a juror, he would have been found guilty. It was as if no one was listening. If more evidence was needed, why didn't the jurors ask for more. They certainly could have. I guess it was because they wanted this to be done with and maybe they were advised to try to sweep this under the carpet also.
The jurors could have handled the widows in a different way then they did. Thye could have wrote back and said they did not wish to comment instead of taking the cowardly way out. They would have not been in violation of their orders with the judge.
For all those who did the right thing, I am sure you helped the widows and yourself. Thank you for making sure they felt human again. For those who took the cowardly way out, may God watch over you and your family if you are deployed and always look over your shoulder because an enemy was among Cpt. Esposito and he never knew it.
The Army, the jurors, the judge all got it wrong, America seemed to get it correct. Is the army a different breed of Americans? I certainly think so.There is not a person i speak with that thinks Martinez was innocent. Even he was shocked with the verdict. Does that tell you something?

bj11 said...

Dear Siobhan

As you know I attended most of the trial and a lot of the pre trial hearings and was there for the unbelievable verdict that was cast by supposedly our best service men and women. I know I am biased towards our family but I also endured 31 years of law enforcement with the most of them in investigations and was astonished by the callous unimaginable verdict that I heard. Phil and Lou's prosecution had more evidence be it mostly circumstantial then I had in numerous murder convictions that I investigated and won. I was astonished by some of the members questions and even more astonished by the results. I can't tell you how bad I fell for both you and Barbara, Joan, Tom, Vivian, Bob and the rest of the family and friends. I also can't believe that the military your husbands' believed in failed them so miserably. Further I can't fathom that some of the members don't want any contact with you, what cowards. I can't imagine how they can sleep at night. I certainly hope that they don't lose a loved one and get the same results that the both of you were dealt. Some of the members that don't want to be contacted I felt were on your side and again don't these people have any moral feelings as to how you and Barbara feel. If they think there wasn't enough evidence to convict Martinez who do they think did this heinous crime? If this is the best the military has to offer, God help the United States of America.

Bruce Johnson
Valhalla, New York