A Naval Flight Officer who faced attempted murder charges for strangling his fiancée in 2017 has pleaded guilty to a lesser aggravated assault charge and will be dismissed from the Navy, officials confirmed Monday.

Lt. Cmdr. Jason Scott Doyle was initially accused of throwing the unidentified woman onto a couch in December 2017 and strangling her before chasing her out of a St. Johns County, Florida, residence and choking her again “with intent to kill,” according to charge sheets.

He was also charged with battery after military prosecutors said he struck the woman repeatedly in the face and told her, “If I can’t have you, nobody will…I’m going to kill you.”

But an aggravated assault charge for strangulation from the same incident was added on March 29, and Doyle pleaded guilty to it last week as part of a pretrial agreement, according to Navy Region Northwest spokesman Joe Kubistek.

Doyle was sentenced to nine months’ confinement, a reprimand and a dismissal, Kubistek said.

Unlike enlisted sailors, commissioned officers can’t be levied a bad conduct or dishonorable discharge.

After a General Court-Martial trial, however, an officer can receive a “dismissal,” which carries the same sanctions that enlisted sailors would receive from a dishonorable discharge.

The other charges Doyle had faced — including attempted murder, assault, conduct unbecoming an officer, obstruction and communication of threats to kill — were dismissed as part of a pretrial agreement, Doyle’s private attorney, Jeffrey Lustick, said.

“The Navy clearly overreached when charging (Lt. Cmdr.) Doyle,” Lustick said in an email.

“From reviewing the evidence in the case and from interviewing the local police, it was easy to conclude that (Lt. Cmdr.) Doyle never did any of those things.

“However, by pleading guilty to the single assault specification, (Lt. Cmdr.) Doyle appropriately took full responsibility for his actions, admitted his mistake, and apologized to those affected,” he said.

His plea deal stipulates that any pay or allowances subject to automatic forfeiture will be allotted to Doyle’s children, Lustick added.

St. Johns County Sheriff’s deputies were called to a residence on Dec. 19, 2017, and found Doyle arguing with a woman, whose name is redacted in the arrest report.

Doyle had thrown her onto a couch and began choking her, but she was able to escape to a bathroom, according to the report.

“(Doyle) forced his way into the locked bathroom and continued the physical altercation by slapping (the woman) with an open hand to the face,” the report states.

The woman fled again, and Doyle caught up to her and began choking her a second time and threatened to kill her, according to the incident report.

She escaped again and called 911, deputies wrote.

When deputies arrived, they found Doyle with a loaded firearm in the backyard but he was “ordered to the ground at gunpoint and secured without incident,” the report states.

The woman had injuries to her neck consistent with being choked, plus “a noticeable knot on her forehead from an unknown cause which occurred during the physical altercation,” according to the report.

Doyle and the woman had been living together “as a family for six months,” and had been engaged for a year, deputies wrote.

The woman told authorities that Doyle had threatened to kill her or her children, and that she thought he was capable of killing her, according to the report.

Initially arrested by Florida authorities on a third-degree felony battery charge, Doyle was later turned over to military authorities for prosecution.

Doyle graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2005.

He was stationed with Patrol Squadron 30 in Jacksonville, Florida, from April 2015 to March 2017, but during the time of the alleged incident he was assigned to Patrol Squadron 47 in the state of Washington, according to his service records.

The “Golden Swordsmen” fly P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft out of Whidbey Island, Washington.

A Seabee drove his car head-on into a massive rock and killed himself the day before he was supposed to appear at a California court-martial hearing on child pornography charges, officials and legal records indicated.

Construction Electrician Constructionman Kirkland Warren Whitmyre, 22, steered a Hyundai Sonata off the Pacific Coast Highway and into Mugu Rock in Ventura County early on March 18, according to the county’s medical examiner and sheriff’s office.

That’s about 15 miles from where Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4 is stationed at Naval Base Ventura County.

Capt. Eric Hatlee of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said authorities were dispatched to the crash around 5:40 a.m. on March 18.

“Evidence and witness statements” suggested the fatal accident was intentional, he said.

“There was no evidence of skid marks or indications he collided with anything prior to cause loss of control,” Hatlee said in an email. “Witnesses also stated they did not see/hear braking or any evasive movements prior to the head on collision into the rock.”

Hatlee said investigators found no signs of alcohol or drugs in the vehicle.

Originally from Pennsylvania, Whitmyre was pronounced dead at the scene.

Whitmyre’s death from multiple blunt force injuries was ruled a suicide, according to Ventura County medical examiner investigator Michael Tellez.

Charges against the junior sailor were preferred on Oct. 19 and he was ordered to a general court-martial on Feb. 28.

Whitmyre was accused of receiving, possessing, viewing and distributing child pornography.

His trial was scheduled to begin on March 19, according to Navy Region Southwest’s court docket.

Authorities suspected Whitmyre used Dropbox and Google Drive accounts to receive, possess and view “videos and digital images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct” from July 2016 to November 2016 in Okinawa, Japan, and Oxnard, California, according to the legal filings.

Whitmyre also was charged with possessing outlawed videos and images on his cell phone in Japan and California from July 2016 to August 2017, charge sheets indicated.

Prosecutors alleged he “knowingly and wrongfully” distributed child pornography from Oxnard in June 2017 as well.

Whitmyre’s battalion held a memorial for him on March 28 at Naval Base Ventura County, according to the unit’s Facebook page.

A Facebook eulogy points to his first Navy deployment to Okinawa in 2016, where his work “bolstered logistics support for multiple construction projects.”

It was also where prosecutors alleged that Whitmyre received, possessed and viewed child pornography.

“He embodied the Seabee motto ‘with compassion for others, we build — we fight, for peace with freedom,’” the post states. “He will be greatly missed by all that had the honor to serve with him.”

Whitmyre enlisted in May 2015 and reported to his unit in December of that year, according to Navy records.

President Trump said Saturday that a Navy SEAL accused of stabbing an ISIS prisoner to death in 2017 will be moved to ‘less restrictive confinement.’

The case of Eddie Gallagher, 39, a 19-year military veteran who served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, has become a cause celebre with supporters raising $264,810 to help him and his family fight what they describe as ‘this travesty of justice.’ Gallagher allegedly texted a photo of himself cradling the dead fighter’s head, saying that he “got him with my hunting knife.”

Trump said via Twitter, tagging Rep. Ralph Norman, who has been highlighting the case: “In honor of his past service to our Country, Navy Seal [Eddie Gallagher] will soon be moved to less restrictive confinement while he awaits his day in court. Process should move quickly!”,

Gallagher’s plight has been highlighted in Congress by Norman and Rep. Dan Crenshaw, a former SEAL officer wounded in action in Afghanistan. In his most recent tour, fighting ISIS in Iraq, he was rated as the top platoon leader in SEAL Team 7 and nominated for the Silver Star, the military’s third-highest honor.

Now, he faces premeditated murder and aggravated assault charges stemming from the alleged killing of an injured ISIS prisoner, as well as alleged instances of him intentionally firing sniper rounds at civilians. For the past six months, he has been detained at Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar in California. His war crimes trial is due to start May 28.

Norman appeared on “Fox and Friends” on Friday, where he said it was a disgrace Gallagher was incarcerated “with rapists … with pedophiles.”

He said: “This man spent 20 years of his life, he spent 15 of it as a SEAL, he volunteered to serve this country overseas not once, not twice, but eight times and the least they can do is have him in confinement if they need be and let him have … medical treatment, let him get his proper legal defense team together,” Norman said.

Crenshaw — who lost sight in his right eye after being hit by an IED explosion — and 17 other House Republicans recently sent a letter to Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer saying it was wrong that Gallagher had limited access to food, medical care, and his legal team.

“Chief Gallagher is a decorated warfighter who, like all service members, is entitled to the presumption of innocence while awaiting court-martial,” they wrote in their letter.

“We have received reports that Chief Gallagher’s access to counsel and access to food and medical care may have been restricted. As a result, we respectfully request that you review the Navy policies governing pretrial confinement for Chief Gallagher and other service members to ensure compliance with the Uniform Code of Military Justice.”

Court-martial proceedings against Special Warfare Operator Chief Eddie Gallagher began last year on multiple charges, including stabbing an ISIS prisoner to death in Iraq, performing a re-enlistment ceremony next to the corpse of the prisoner he stabbed, and illegally operating a drone over the corpse.

Gallagher pleaded not guilty to all charges.

While a judge dropped the latter two charges last month, Gallagher is still detained for the alleged stabbing, which prosecutors say happened in May 2017 outside Mosul, in northern Iraq.

A cadet in his third year at the Air Force Academy has been accused of unlawfully using marijuana and cocaine, and has been scheduled to face a court-martial next week. (Mike Kaplan/Air Force.

 

A cadet in his third year at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, has been accused of using illegal drugs and will face a court-martial beginning April 2.

Cadet 2nd Class Daven D. Horne has been charged with two specifications alleging wrongful use of marijuana and cocaine, the academy said in a release Friday. These would be violations of Article 112a of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

“It must be emphasized that charges are merely accusations, and the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty,” the release said.

The charge sheet in the case, provided by the academy, said Horne allegedly used the drugs sometime in May or early June 2018.

Another former cadet, in an unrelated case, was sentenced to be dismissed from the Air Force and jailed for 30 days last November after he admitted to using cocaine. That former cadet 2econd class, Ethan Walton, pleaded guilty in a court martial to unlawfully using cocaine on two occasions, as well as making false statements to investigators.

It took me more than 20 years to become a lieutenant colonel. Then I was sent to Leavenworth.

Before I drove into Fort Leavenworth, I was a lieutenant colonel in the Army. And within minutes, that would all be taken away from me.

In 2012, I was sentenced to serve a year at Leavenworth—the nation’s main military prison for those who serve in the Armed Forces—for exposing a first lieutenant to HIV. I’d been HIV positive for several years, with my viral load suppressed to the point where it was impossible to transmit the virus. Despite that, and other evidence in my favor, I was still charged with felony assault, willful disobedience, abusive sexual contact and conduct unbecoming an officer.

Weeks before, when the judge in my court martial found me guilty, I was on my way for a promotion to be a full colonel, the highest rank in the Army before becoming a general. In the military, rank is everything; it literally defines who you are. It defines your pay, of course, but also it tells others how to respect you.

As a private, you’re at the bottom of the food chain. Everyone above you requires a salute and a greeting of the day. You move aside for higher ranked soldiers. You stand at attention and look at senior officers in the eye and say, “Good morning,” while mopping the floors.

It took me over 20 years to get to lieutenant colonel, a rank that out of every person who served in my family, only my uncle was able to achieve. It was such a proud moment for my family that I was given his personal WWII sidearm—a Colt .45 pistol.

But the night of my conviction, my mother in her own trauma was asking for that same side arm back; she was afraid I was going to use it against myself.

In Leavenworth, your former rank carries no weight. On the day I went in, the silver oak leaves emblazoned on my uniform that signaled what I was were taken away from me, and I became an inmate—a prisoner to a country that I swore to protect and serve.

Or, at least, that’s what I was supposed to be.

I was one of the highest-ranking people in Fort Leavenworth during my time there—and everyone knew that. Despite the military being America’s largest employer, it’s incredibly small; it’s impossible to not know everyone’s rank when they walk in.

The commandant of the prison seemed to avoid me (until recently, I had outranked her) and I still had guards inadvertently call me, “sir,” accidentally. They’d catch themselves and shuffle off, unsure of how to work with the dynamic of a person you’d normally have to salute now being a person you had to mind after.

But my former rank also could’ve put me at risk. Unlike in the civilian world where attorneys decide on whether charges are filed against someone, in the military, it’s commanders and colonels—people like myself—who decide on if people should be charged for crimes that could result in them serving time in Leavenworth. I felt like a district attorney walking into the middle of Sing Sing prison.

A detailed, up-to-date schedule of upcoming executions in the United States

To self-preserve, I never tried to pull rank among the other inmates—or the guards, for that matter—until I received news that my 16-year-old cousin died while I was locked up. I went to the watch commander of the prison and demanded to be left alone for a week. I may have been in a brown uniform at that point, but that watch commander knew damn well that Lt. Col. Pinkela was telling him to be left alone.

And they did.

Every night, I kept a journal and wrote the preamble of the U.S. Constitution … over and over. “We the People of the United States of America … ,” filled well over a dozen pages. I traced my hands. I wrote out the military strategy from “The Art of War” just to remind myself of who I was.

I never pulled rank again. But I did use it to help others. Young soldiers who were applying for clemency—many of them with only a high school diploma—were trying to write essays asking for forgiveness to be let out and go home and see their families. As a senior officer, I would review clemency letters weekly. In Leavenworth, I would help the guys draft them out.

I became known as a bit of a den mother, caring after her chicks. And that’s what a lot of the people I was locked up with were—they were kids being watched by other kids.

On my last day in Leavenworth, the guards helped book time at the library, where I used to help my kids draft out their letters. One by one, they all came up to me, hugged me and cried.

“Who’s going to look after us,” I remember one kid saying. “Who’s going to help?”

The emotions I had that night were unforgettable. Even though the military took my uniform away from me and I no longer had the authority—or even the responsibility—to take care of these guys, the military would never take away the pride and love I had for taking care of soldiers and their families.

The next day when I was released, I got my uniform back—silver oak leaves and all. Now that I was separated from the Army, it didn’t mean the same as it did before I went in. Before, the uniform was what made my service feel meaningful. But being at Leavenworth taught me something else: I didn’t need the uniform to be of service.

Ken Pinkela, 51, is the communications and military policy director at The SERO Project. He lives in Otisville, New York.