A Fort Stewart soldier charged with shooting and killing two fellow soldiers and wounding a third was arraigned Monday morning.
If convicted, Spc. Neftaly Platero, 33, of Kingwood, Texas, could face life in prison but not the death penalty, Fort Stewart spokesman Kevin Larson said.
“The case was referred non-capital based on the evidence presented by legal counsel to and at the discretion of the convening authority,” Larson said. The convening authority is 3rd Infantry Division Commander Maj. Gen. Robert “Abe” Abrams, he confirmed.
Platero returned stateside following an Article 32 hearing March 14-24 at Camp Liberty, Iraq, according to 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd ID public affairs. Platero is in pre-trial confinement at the naval brig in Charleston, S.C., Larson said.
Platero is charged with the Sept. 23, 2010, premeditated murders of Spc. John Carrillo Jr., 20, of Stockton, Calif., and Pfc. Gebrah Noonan, 26, of Watertown, Conn., and the attempted premeditated death of a third soldier while deployed to Fallujah, Iraq. The name of the wounded soldier has not been released. Platero, Carillo and Noonan were assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 4th IBCT, 3rd ID. The 4th Brigade deployed to Iraq last year and returned in July.
Platero deferred entering a plea and waived his right to have the charges against him read aloud in court. Military Judge Lt. Col. Tiernan P. Dolan then set a trial agenda.
Dolan announced Platero’s court martial would be Feb. 6-25, 2012. The judge said trial motions are to be submitted by Dec. 1 and response to motions is due Dec. 6. A motions hearing is scheduled for Dec. 9 and witness lists must be submitted by Jan. 8, 2012. Notification of plea will be made by Jan. 13, 2012, Dolan said.
Along with several military defense attorneys, Platero is being defended by civilian attorney Guy L. Womack of Houston. Government attorney Capt. Brett Lamborn is serving as lead prosecutor, 4th IBCT public affairs confirmed.
Several of Noonan’s family members spoke to reporters after the arraignment. Although Ling Noonan, Noonan’s mother, said she did not know the details leading up to the shooting, she denied there was an argument between Platero and her son and the other soldiers, as previously was reported. She also expressed dissatisfaction with prosecutors, claiming one of the government attorneys appeared to be preoccupied with a sexual assault case.
“My (son’s) case should be the only case anybody is talking about,” Noonan said.
Pfc. Noonan’s sister, Sheminith Noonan, described the trial process as “surreal” and expects it to be drawn out.
“You see (murder trials) on movies and TV … I never understood until now why these things take so long,” she said.
Sheminith Noonan echoed her mother’s frustration with the prosecution, stating there has been “a lack of communication” between government attorneys and her family.
Noonan also said she was concerned by a number of small mistakes allegedly made by the prosecution, such as not getting her father’s name correct.
“If they can’t get that right, how can we trust them at trial?” she asked.