Fort Stewart soldier Michael Burnett pleaded guilty Monday morning to two counts of voluntary manslaughter in the December shooting deaths of Tiffany York and Michael Roark.
Burnett, who went before Long County Superior Court Judge Robert L. Russell III, waived his arraignment and had two counts of malice murder dropped against him by the district attorney’s office in an agreement for his testimony against four other suspects, Isaac Aguigui, Anthony Peden, Christopher Salmon and Heather Salmon, who also have been charged in the murders.
Russell agreed to accept the plea bargain but held off on sentencing the soldier pending his cooperation. Monday’s testimony contained information regarding an alleged conspiracy among a group called FEAR, which Burnett admitted to being a part of, that included plots to overthrow the United States, kill the president and kill several local leaders.
Fort Stewart spokesman Kevin Larson on Monday released a statement that the CID investigation into the sitation is ongoing and the four soldiers remain in the Army.
"Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield does not have a gang or militia problem," the statement said. "Any suspicions of gang activity are actively investigated by CID. CID also recognizes the obvious concerns with the combination of gangs and military-type training. That is why CID monitors and investigates gang and extremist group association with criminal acts in the Army so closely. We believe the reason we are able to maintain a low gang criminal threat status is because of the awareness of and focus on the threat.”
Burnett’s testimony also revealed a possible second murder involving Aguigui, where shooting victim Michael Roark may have been a witness.
See Wednesday’s Coastal Courier for a full story. and go to www.coastalcourier.com to see video from the trial.