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Airman found guilty at court martial

Posted 6/29/2010   Updated 6/29/2010 Email story   Print story


by Judge Advocate
35th Fighter Wing

6/29/2010 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan  -- On Saturday, 26 June 2010, a Special Court-Martial found Staff Sgt. Moses Taylor, Jr., 35th Maintenance Squadron, guilty of drunk driving, fleeing the scene of an accident, false official statement, and failure to obey an order to deregister his vehicle.

The court composed of four officer members found Staff Sgt. Taylor guilty of the charges after a three-day trial. The court members went on to sentence Staff Sgt. Taylor to a Bad Conduct Discharge, two months of confinement and a reduction to Airman Basic. With a BCD, Staff Sgt. Taylor will also forfeit two-thirds of his pay and allowances while in confinement.

"It is sad to see a 17-year career end like this," said Maj. Todd Wydra, 35th Maintenance Squadron Commander, "but Staff Sgt. Taylor chose this outcome when he went out to get drunk without a plan, decided to drive home drunk, wrecked his car, and then, rather than take responsibility for his actions, fled the scene and lied to Security Forces."

On 27 February 2010, Staff Sgt. Taylor's abandoned vehicle was found flipped over in a drainage ditch in a residential area of Misawa City. Staff Sgt. Taylor told Security Forces that he had been at a local bar earlier that morning and gotten drunk. He said he then gave his keys to an unidentified person and had his wife drive him home. His wife also told Security Forces and later testified that she had driven her husband home. Staff Sgt. Taylor did not testify at trial.

In her closing argument, Capt. Grethe Hahn, trial counsel, argued that this case was about "the keys, the location, and the motivation." Staff Sgt. Taylor's keys--including his house keys and work keys--were still in the ignition after the accident. Capt. Hahn argued that it was unlikely that a stranger in the Club would have known what Staff Sgt. Taylor's car looked like or where it was parked.

Additionally, the accident happened less than a kilometer from Staff Sgt. Taylor's house. Shortly after the accident, a Japanese witness chased the driver before losing him near Staff Sgt. Taylor's neighborhood. Finally, another employee at the nightclub saw Staff Sgt. Taylor's wife leave the Club alone earlier that morning.

Capt. Felix Sutanto, Staff Sgt. Taylor's defense counsel, argued that the prosecution did not produce any evidence to prove that Staff Sgt. Taylor drove his car that night. He argued that it was not reasonable to believe Staff Sgt. Taylor could have left the accident apparently uninjured.

In sentencing, Capt. Chris Stein, assistant trial counsel, argued that this case sends a message to both our Japanese hosts and to the base community. "Is this what we expect from members who wear the blue uniform?" argued Capt. Stein. He urged the court to "send a message that this conduct is incompatible with military service."

Staff Sgt. Taylor's conviction and sentence will be reviewed by the installation commander as court-martial convening authority. If he approves the BCD, the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals will also review the findings and sentence for error.

7/2/2010 2:48:12 AM ET
This is a perfect example of someone who took a bad situation and made it so much worse. Taylor's first mistake was getting behind the wheel drunk. Everything he did after he crashed just made the situation so much worse. What a waste of a 17-year Airman. We deserve better Misawa.
What a Waste, Misawa
7/1/2010 8:35:00 PM ET
Honestly I know this person personally and he isn't a bad person. But the punishment is due fit. He should'nt have lied about what happened and neither should his wife. And his time and grade should not matter. If you drink in drive it should automatically be a discharge. There is NO VALUABLE reason to do it. And if they would have just slapped him on the wrist and said don't do it again it would have showed the lower ranking airmen that its okay to be stupid just as long as you have been in for a long time If it was me I would have punished his wife for lying also. All the good that we do for the Japanese community is completely out weighed by the irresponsible and just down right stupid things that AF members do. For every action there is an equal or opposite reaction.
AimHigh, Misawa AB
7/1/2010 5:30:32 PM ET
Drinking and driving is not a good thing but a more important message people should be getting from this is about lying and dishonesty.Had this airmen chosen to own up to what he did things would be very different. He chose to not only flee but to come up with lies to attempt to cover it all up. Given his years of service if the airmen had been honest and taken resposibility for his actions he likely would have been able to retire rather than face a BCD.
Deal Bigger, Misawa AB
7/1/2010 5:51:43 AM ET
Incidents like this remind us that we do not just represent ourselves anymore especially in a host Country. Japanese National's do not know this guy's name all they know is that he is in the US Air Force and now we are all a part of this. If you live your life by the Core Values Integrity First Service Before Self and Excellence in all we do then you can't go wrong.
E-3, Misawa
7/1/2010 12:02:18 AM ET
What does being overweight have to do with DUI's I agree that the military laws for DUI's need to be more harsh. I do believe that we as an Air Force do a great job in recognizing its outstanding Wingmen. Dont be one of those Airmen that does the right thing so they can get recognized do the right thing because you care about your fellow Airmen.
Michael Poole, Misawa
6/30/2010 12:28:57 AM ET
Its a shame that people cannot get it through their heads about drinking and driving. We as a AF spend more time catering to the drunks and overweight people that we lose sight of the Wingman who are doing great things. DUI's should be like drugs you get caught you are a civilian. NO second chances Until the punishment is severe enough to be a deterrent DUIsDWIs will continue.
Justice Was Served , Misawa AB
6/29/2010 1:13:34 AM ET
What a shame to see someone so close to retirement screw it all up by driving drunk. Hopefully this will serve as an example to the consequences of drinking and driving.
Disappointed, Misawa
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