Archive for Thursday, October 14, 2004

Fort Riley soldiers charged in killings

October 14, 2004

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— Army prosecutors have charged two Fort Riley soldiers with two counts of premeditated murder in the deaths of two soldiers in September at a rural Clay County home.

Sgts. Aaron R. Stanley, 22, of Bismarck, N.D., and Eric J. Colvin, 23, of Papillion, Neb., are being held by civilian officials in the Geary County jail pending a military trial.

They are charged with the shooting deaths of Staff Sgt. Matthew Werner, 30, of Oxnard, Calif., and Spc. Christopher D. Hymer, 23, of Nevada, Mo.

All four soldiers were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry, which is based at Fort Riley. Approximately 750 soldiers from the unit are serving their second tour of duty in Iraq.

Four other soldiers, also from the 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry, have been charged in Iraq by the military with the murders of four Iraqi civilians.

Stanley and Colvin also are charged with distribution of marijuana, methamphetamines and use of the drugs. Stanley also is charged with being absent without leave and being in violation of an order restricting him to the limits of Fort Riley.

Stanley was restricted to post as part of an agreement between the Army and officials in Pottawatomie County, where he was arrested in June on eight drug charges. Stanley was arraigned on those charges in a civilian court on Oct. 4, and his trial is set for Dec. 13 in Wamego.

The shootings took place Sept. 13 at a home rented by Stanley outside Clay Center, about 30 miles from Fort Riley. Werner was found dead at the scene, while Hymer died Sept. 18 at a Wichita hospital.

Werner was back in Kansas to undergo surgery on his hand, which he injured while playing football in Iraq. Colvin, Hymer and Stanley all went to Iraq in 2003 with their battalion, taking part in the early stages of the war.

Stanley was scheduled to go to Iraq in June but was being held in Pottawatomie County when his unit deployed. The other soldiers were reassigned at Fort Riley to fill duties supporting their unit during the deployment.

The soldiers charged in September in Iraq are all from Charlie Company and assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division stationed near Baghdad.

Sgt. Michael P. Williams, 25, of Memphis, Tenn., and Spc. Brent W. May, 22, of Salem, Ohio, both charged with murder of three Iraqis. Staff Sgt. Johnny M. Horne Jr., 30, of Winston-Salem, N.C., and Staff Sgt. Cardenas J. Alban, 29, of Inglewood, Calif., are charged with murdering one Iraqi.

Lt. Col. David Batchelor, commander of the battalion, said recently that the soldiers were remaining focused despite the charges facing fellow soldiers in Iraq and Kansas.

"Our soldiers are holding up extremely well and are still very motivated to accomplish their assigned tasks," said Batchelor, adding that the frequency of the battalion's deployments wasn't a factor during the present tour in Iraq.

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