Closing arguments heard in fragging trial

Posted: Updated:

Closing arguments concluded Tuesday in the trial of the Army staff sergeant accused of killing two Hudson Valley soldiers in Iraq.

The military prosecutor told the jury panel the only person with motive, means and an opportunity to detonate the Claymore mine that killed Capt. Philip Esposito, of Rockland, and 1st Lt. Louis Allen, of Orange, was Staff Sgt. Alberto Martinez.

The defense, however, insisted Martinez was in a port-o-potty at the time of the explosion, and the prosecution failed to produce any real evidence to prove otherwise.

In military trials, the prosecution has the opportunity to make a closing rebuttal to respond to points the defense made in its closing.

Prosecutors used the rebuttal to try to convince jurors Martinez hated Esposito for questioning his job performance in Iraq. They also insisted that the act of setting up a Claymore mine inside a room where Esposito and Allen were playing a board game was pre-meditated and planned out.

The defense struck down these arguments as circumstantial, claiming the evidence was selectively chosen to peg Martinez as the killer instead of exploring other suspects.

If convicted of pre-mediated murder, Martinez could face the death penalty. The military jury, however, also has the option of convicting the defendant on lesser charges.

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