Witness says soldier wanted to kill girlfriend
A Schofield Barracks soldier accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend in October talked about his desire to kill her a year earlier when he was deployed in Afghanistan, a witness testified yesterday at a military hearing.
Witness Spc. Marice Swain told government lawyers that he and the defendant, Spc. Jeffery White, were stationed in Kandahar together in 2004 when White first confided that he wanted to kill his ex-girlfriend, Spc. Felicia LaDuke.
White, a 25th Infantry Division truck driver, is accused of murdering LaDuke, a fellow Schofield soldier who served in Iraq, to avoid paying her monthly child support payments of $285 for their 2-year-old son, Elijah.
Swain testified that the two men were back at Schofield Barracks when an August paternity test showed that White was Elijah's father. "Man, I should just kill the b----," Swain quoted White as saying.
White, 21, was charged Nov. 3 with premeditated murder, making threats and obstruction of justice. LaDuke's body was found on Mokuleia Beach on Oct. 8.
The Army this week is holding an investigative hearing at the Wheeler Army Airfield courthouse to determine if White should be court-martialed. Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, commanding general of the 25th Division, will make that decision. White could be executed if convicted of LaDuke's murder.
Swain testified that since Elijah's birth in February 2004 White had taken a lot of "ribbing" from his platoon about his relationship with LaDuke. "He may have been letting off his frustration," Swain said.
Last week Swain was acquitted in a general court martial of obstruction of justice and making false statements during the investigation into LaDuke's murder.
Swain also testified that Pvt. Alicia Williams told him on Oct. 8 that White had confessed to her that he killed LaDuke.
Other witnesses have told a Honolulu police homicide detective that White strangled LaDuke, threw her body out of LaDuke's rented SUV and ran her over several times.
They said there was a long-standing dispute between White and LaDuke over custody of Elijah. However, LaDuke had told others that she was willing to drop her fight for child support payments if White would abandon his child custody claim.
White is married and has another child with his wife, Angela.
LaDuke, a truck driver with the 25th Transportation Company, 524th Combat Support Battalion, returned from Iraq in March 2005, the same month that White, a truck driver with Company A, 325th Support Battalion, returned from Afghanistan.
White is being held in the Navy brig on Ford Island, pending trial.
Army officials hope to complete the so-called Article 32 investigative hearing, similar to a civilian preliminary hearing, by Friday.