Saturday I returned to Lackland Air Force Base, to cover the sentencing of Staff Sergeant Luis Walker. On Monday I made intern history at News 4 WOAI when I was the first intern to cover a military trial. During the week I was told there was no chance I’d be able to go back. Then on Friday I was asked to cover the sentencing on Saturday and returned to court. It was a great experience that I learned a lot from and want to share.
In a military trial there is not a “jury” there are “court members.” And unlike civilian court, military court has 7 court members instead of 12 jurors. Another difference I found interesting is that court members can ask questions as well. When it comes to sentencing you do not need a unanimous vote. For a sentence of less than 10 years of confinement you only need a 2/3 vote. If you issue a sentence of 10 years of confinement or more you need a 5/6 vote. And if you issue a sentence of life in prison you do need a unanimous vote.
It took court members less than an hour and a half to sentence Walker. He is now an E1 status, must forfeit all paid allowances, dishonorably discharged and will serve 20 years of confinement. He will be eligible for parole, after serving one third of that time.
Walker was taken out of a side door, instead of the door we were waiting at, so I had to run to get the photo you see above.