Thursday, March 31, 2011

Picture of John Valdez beginning to emerge in trial

We intend to introduce new evidence through cross examination of the witnesses. - Jack Holmes, Katie Briggs' co-counsel during voir dire

Belton – John Valdez is a 26-year-old combat medic who is accused of the murder-for-hire plot to kill a mechanized infantry sergeant for his GI life insurance benefits.

He sits in court stoically, staring at the papers piled on the defense table before him, one amid a cluster of 6 attorneys and 3 defendants who are being tried together for the murder of Sgt. Ryan Sullivan, a man of the same age who was a stand-out and a star in his battallion at the sprawling Ft. Hood military base.

A two-time Iraq war veteran, Mr. Valdez attained the rank of Staff Sergeant and served as the platoon leader for the medics who served Company A of the 1st Battallion of the 8th Armored Cavalry.

He became quick to anger following his second tour in Iraq, according to witnesses who have testified against him over the course of three days as he is tried along with his alleged girlfriend and mastermind of the plot, Katie Briggs, and fellow medic Kyle Moesch.

In fact, just days before the Columbus Day 4-day weekend when Sgt. Sullivan died, Mr. Valdez had an angry confrontation with the Company Commander, Capt. Justin Michel, in an equipment display exercise, known among troopers as “junk on the bunk” to determine if all necessary combat gear is available and in working order.

They reportedly nearly came to blows before cooling off, and then Mr. Valdez was A.W.O.L. For a full day when he failed to report for duty at the fort.

His attorney, Bucky Harris, obtained the agreement of fellow medic Cpl. Jeremy Jacobs, that Mr. Valdez displayed some of the classic symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – an inability to get along with others, to hold his temper, a hypervigilantism, and a demeanor that impressed other soldiers he was a man to be feared.

He offered Cpl. Jacobs and his fellow medic Kyle Moesch $2,000 apiece to help dispose of Sgt. Sullivan's body once the planned hit had been carried out. They demurred.

Then, on a unit mission to Ft. Polk, Louisiana, he tried to obtain the kind of paralytic drugs used in surgical applications to immobilize patients, the kind of drugs used in executions by lethal injection. Later, he told Cpl. Jacobs he had studied a reference book and learned just which drugs he needed to obtain.

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