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Testimony: Complaints Were Ignored

Staff Sergeant Kleifgen testified this morning that his commanding officer and the Inspector General failed to respond to a complaint he filed about a First Sergeant who called Private First Class Barry Winchell a "faggot." According to Kleifgen, Sergeant Seacrest said of Winchell, "That faggot has a drinking problem. I'm going to teach him a lesson." Seacrest reportedly ordered Winchell to report to the military police for a breathalyzer which Winchell passed. Kleifgen testified about Seacrest when a panel member, the military's equivalent to a juror, asked through the military judge whether Kleifgen had taken any actions to respond to the anti-gay harassment Winchell faced prior to his murder. Other details about the specific content of the complaint and the Army's response are not known at this time.

C. Dixon Osburn, Co-Executive Director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, stated, "If true, the testimony suggests that even higher levels of command at Ft. Campbell knew that Winchell was facing anti-gay harassment and took no steps to stop it." Osburn continued, "At hearings held this summer for Glover and Fisher, soldiers testified that Winchell faced daily harassment for four months prior to his murder based on rumors that he might be gay. The harassment and failure to stop it directly violate "'Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue.'"

Defense counsel today argued that Private Calvin Glover is not guilty of premeditated murder by painting Specialist Justin Fisher as the instigator of the murder. Specialist Gabriel Tucker, a military police officer who drove Winchell by ambulance to the hospital after the attack, testified that, before the ambulance departed, Fisher yelled at the medics angrily, "Let him die." Other soldiers testified that Fisher repeatedly spread rumors about Winchell being gay throughout the unit. Others testified that Fisher and Winchell had been in a previous fight. Specialist Ruiz recalled that Fisher pointed to a blood stain on the inside of the door to the room which Fisher and Winchell shared indicating a prior fight the roommates had had where Fisher hit Winchell with a dust bin. Specialist Clayton Mackenzie testified that two weeks prior to the murder, Winchell confided in him that he was concerned about further conflict with Fisher and believed there was no one to whom he could turn to stop the harassment.

Glover yesterday pled guilty to committing non-premeditated murder in the murder of Winchell at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. Glover, 18, had been charged with beating Winchell, 21, to death with a baseball bat while Winchell slept in his cot outside his room at approximately 2:30 a.m. on July 5, 1999. In a plea bargain, the details of which have not been released, Glover agreed to be tried on the charge of premeditated murder, while pleading guilty on the charge of non-premeditated murder.

Glover could face a maximum penalty of confinement for life without possibility of parole, bust in rank to E-1, forfeiture of all pay and a dishonorable discharge. The sentence may be altered based on the plea bargain.

Fisher is currently scheduled to face court-martial on December 13, 1999 on the charges of participating as a principal to premeditated murder; acting as an accessory after the fact; making false statements under oath; and obstructing the investigation.

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