Soldier guilty in barracks killing
A member of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in a court martial on base Thursday, May 2.
A military judge sentenced Spc. Marshall D. Drake Jr. to 11 years, 9 months in prison for the Christmas, 2012 killing of Pfc. Grant W. Wise in Drake's barracks room. The shooting came after a night of heavy drinking. Drake was also reduced in rank to private, ordered to forfeit all pay and allowances and will receive a dishonorable discharge.
Here's the press release issued today by U.S. Army Alaska Media Relations Chief John Pennell:
Court-Martial results for US v Drake May 2, 2013
HEADQUARTERS, U.S. ARMY ALASKA, JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON,
Alaska, May 2 - A U.S. Army Alaska Soldier was convicted of involuntary
manslaughter by a military judge in a general court-martial here Thursday,
Specialist Marshall D. Drake Jr. was sentenced to be reduced in rank
to private (E-1), forfeiture of all pay and allowances, confinement for 11
years and 9 months, and a dishonorable discharge.
Drake was charged in connection with the death of Private First
Class Grant W. Wise on Dec. 25, 2012. Drake was formally charged in January
with failing to obey regulations and the negligent killing of Pfc. Wise. He
had pleaded guilty Wednesday, May 1, to charges of failure to obey general
regulations for not registering a firearm and storing it in his barracks
The prosecution, led by Capt. Christopher Chatelain, argued May 1
that Drake had unlawfully killed Wise, by culpable negligence, by shooting
him Dec. 25, 2012. The government provided testimony from an eyewitness to
the shooting, a recording of the subsequent 911 calls, first responders and
experts in firearms and gunshot residue.
The eyewitness, Pvt. 2 David Hubbard, recounted the sequence of
events, saying Drake and Wise came to his barracks room door at about 3:30
a.m. Christmas morning asking for cigarettes. He said they both seemed
intoxicated and told him they had been drinking all night.
He gave the pair some cigarettes, and then went back to bed and back
to sleep, Hubbard testified, but Drake and Wise woke him again at about 6:30
a.m. by banging on his door and calling his name.
Hubbard said he answered the door and went with the pair to Drake's
room down the hall where they sat around listening to music and talking
about their favorite bands. He testified that Wise was sitting on Drake's
bed, Drake was sitting in a low, wooden chair beside the bed and Hubbard was
sitting on a cooler.
He said at some point Drake pulled a pistol from his desk to show
Wise and Hubbard. Drake removed the magazine from the .45-caliber Kimber
1911 Custom II handgun and pulled the gun's slide back, ejecting a round
from the chamber. Hubbard said Drake looked for the bullet but didn't find
After showing them it was empty, Hubbard said Drake then handed the
gun to Wise, who dry-fired the gun by pulling the slide back to cock the
hammer and then pulling the trigger. Wise then handed the gun to Hubbard,
who did the same and handed the weapon back to Drake.
Hubbard said at this point Drake and Wise were laughing and joking
and making sarcastic comments about each other. He said Drake then switched
and started talking in a "tough guy" voice while pointing the pistol at
Hubbard said Drake pulled the trigger. He heard a loud bang and saw
a flash and saw Wise fall back onto the bed.
"I thought it was a joke," Hubbard testified, "an elaborate prank.
It just didn't seem real."
Hubbard called 911 and made an initial report of the shooting, but
his call was cut off. He called back and reported the details to the 911
Chatelain played back the 911 recording to the somber courtroom. In
it Hubbard is heard reporting that one soldier had just accidentally shot
another and emergency assistance was needed. In the background, Drake can be
heard screaming and wailing in despair. The prosecutor pointed out one
particular scream from Drake, "I'm going to jail for life!"
The government then called first responders to testify about what
they found when they arrived on the scene. Sgt. Michael Hazelton of the
164th Military Police Company reported finding the pistol on the bed beside
Wise's body. He said he moved the weapon to the kitchen counter.
Army CID Special Agent Thomas Quarles said he inspected the weapon
when he arrived on the scene and found it had a magazine in place, the slide
was forward, the hammer was to the rear and the safety was off.
During cross examination, defense attorney Capt. John Haberland
asked how well the CID agents had searched the barracks room looking for the
shell casing from the shot that killed Wise. Quarles and Special Agent
Bridget Ruddy both acknowledged searching the room meticulously before
finding the casing in the corner of the room.
Haberland then asked if they had found the live round that was
ejected from the pistol when Drake first cleared it before handing it to
Wise earlier. The agents said they did not find a single round, but did find
a box of ammunition.
Firearms and tool-mark examiner Dana Bonar from Army CID in Atlanta,
Ga., testified that she had tested the weapon and all its safety features
were functioning. She also noted the pistol was a single-action weapon, and
would not fire unless the hammer was cocked.
Forensic pathology expert Dr. Meredith Lann from the Alaska Medical
Examiner's office said she conducted Wise's autopsy, and based on her
inspection testified the weapon had been in contact with Wise's face when it
As the only defense witness, J. Matney Wyatt, a forensic chemist and
trace evidence specialist said he received and tested three gunshot residue
kits from the scene and found each of the three people in the room tested
positive for gunshot residue.
Wyatt, from the Army Crime Lab in Forest Park, Ga., said a positive
result could from firing the weapon, being near the weapon when it was fired
or touching a surface where there was gunshot residue present. He said the
test results indicated Wise, Drake and Hubbard were either near the weapon
when it was fired or had handled the firearm.
In closing arguments, assistant trial counsel Capt. Tom Warschefesky
pointed back to graphic photographs from the scene and Drake's own
statements recorded on the call to 911.
He said Drake acted with more than simple negligence because he had
the unregistered gun in his room, unsecured and loaded. He said Drake failed
to clear the weapon, failed to check the safety, failed to ensure the hammer
of the weapon was down, pointed the weapon at Wise's face and pulled the
trigger. Warschefesky called this culpable negligence and said "Pfc. Wise is
dead because of the acts and omissions of the accused." He asked the judge
to find Drake guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
The defense called the incident a terrible tragedy that ended up in
Wise's death, but argued there was no evidence of negligence on Drake's
part. The defense attacked inconsistencies in Hubbard's testimony, saying
the details of his story simply didn't make sense.
The military judge, Maj. Stefan Wolfe, opted to consider the
evidence and closing statements overnight and returned the next morning to
render his decision. He found Drake guilty of all charges and after an
emotional sentencing hearing involving testimony from Wise's family and
several soldiers who knew and had worked with Drake, Wolfe issued his
Pfc. Wise, from Fairport, N.Y., joined the Army in October 2011 and
attended Basic Training at Fort Benning, Ga. He served at Fort Bragg, N.C.
before being assigned as an infantryman with the 4th Brigade Combat Team
(Airborne) here in September 2012. He was 25 years old.
Drake, 23, of Mount Pleasant, S.C., joined the Army in October 2009,
graduated from Basic Training at Fort Benning, Ga., and was assigned to the
4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division here in March 2010.
He deployed to Afghanistan from December 2011 to October 2012.