Cleared soldier's guilty plea was rejected

NEW YORK, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- A U.S. solider cleared of slaying two New York National Guard officers in Iraq had previously offered to plead guilty but the deal was rejected, documents show.

Documents published in Saturday's New York Times show that more than two years before the "demoralizing" not-guilty verdict for Staff Sgt. Alberto Martinez was reached in December, he had offered to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence instead of the death penalty.


The offer was rejected by the U.S. general responsible for prosecuting the case. Martinez went on to be cleared of charges he intentionally detonated a mine on an American base in Tikrit, killing his company commander, Capt. Phillip Esposito, and Lt. Lou Allen in June 2005. Martinez has publicly proclaimed a sense of vindication and returned to civilian life since the verdict.

"(The Army) had a conviction handed to them and chose not to take it," Barbara Allen, the widow of one of the slain officers and now a single mother of four young boys, told the Times.

Martinez's lawyers did not respond to calls for comment and the former commander who signed a document rejecting the plea could not be reached, the newspaper said.


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