Martin C. Evans

Rocky Point Soldier Jailed For Killing Man He Tried To Protect

In Uncategorized on March 7, 2010 at 1:04 am

A decorated Long Island soldier with four combat tours sits in an Army prison cell at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, convicted by a court martial of killing a man he struggled for an hour to protect.

A former superior calls him a model soldier. Colleagues say the Rocky Point soldier, Justin Boyle, 29, had only been following an Army credo not to leave a fellow soldier in harms way. And the doctor who examined the dead man’s body had changed her autopsy report from “inconclusive” to “homicide,” after a prosecutor confronted her over her findings.

“To be honest with you, I don’t think we learned the truth,” said the dead man’s sister, Michelle Brown, of Fredericksburg, Va. “I think he was trying to help my brother.”

But a court martial at Ft. Bragg convicted Boyle last Oct. 5, saying the wrestling choke hold he used to restrain Pfc. Luke Brown, of Fredericksburg Va., after a night of drinking at a Fayetteville, NC bar recklessly caused the solder’s death.

An article detailing the case appears in today’s Newsday.

Brown, 27, died July, 20, 2008 after Boyle and at least seven other soldiers struggled to subdue him. Brown’s blood alcohol was nearly triple the legal limit and he had become violently aggressive toward fellow soldiers who tried to persuade him to return to Ft. Bragg after the bar’s closing time.

Prosecutors were able to persuade at least six of nine members of the court martial panel that Boyle’s choke hold resulted in Brown’s death. Prosecutors prevailed even though there was testimony that Brown was conscious and talking for several minutes after he was choked.

What appeared to cast serious doubt on the prosecutor’s case was the fact that the military pathologist admitted on the stand that the prosecutor had called her only days before she would testify before a military grand jury. After his call, she changed the autopsy report from “inconclusive” to “homicide” – something she admitted she had never done before.

Soldiers at Ft. Bragg say they are frequently warned by their superiors that if they go out drinking with a group of guys, they had better “do whatever it takes” to make sure no one gets left behind, “even if you have to knock them out and drag them back.”

Boyle, who joined the Army in 2001 and reached the rank of sergeant, served three tours in Iraq and another in Afghanistan. He will receive a bad conduct discharge when his prison sentence is complete.

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