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Soldier accused of killing contractor gets hearing date


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POSTED: Friday, October 23, 2009

A 31-year-old Schofield Barracks soldier charged with killing a civilian contractor in Iraq last month will face the military equivalent of a preliminary hearing Dec. 8 in a Wheeler Army Airfield courtroom.

Spc. Beyshee Velez—assigned to the 3rd Bronco Brigade Combat Team's Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 7th Field Artillery—is accused of shooting Lucas “;Trent”; Vinson with an M-4 carbine.

Velez, who was on his third combat deployment to Iraq, has been confined to the Ford Island brig, where he was taken shortly after the Sept. 13 shooting.

He is charged with two counts of murder, one count of trying to elude Air Force security forces at Contingency Operating Base Speicher and three counts of assault.

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After hearing all of the testimony presented at Velez's Article 32 hearing, the presiding officer will send his recommendation to Maj. Gen. Robert Caslen, commanding general of the 25th Infantry Division, who will determine whether a court-martial will be convened.

A murder conviction by court-martial could result in life imprisonment for Velez.

Vinson, 27, had been working for the Houston-based KBR since 2003 when he was killed.

Vinson's family was told by Army officials that he was shot three times after picking up a soldier who flagged down his vehicle at Contingency Operating Base Speicher near Tikrit, about 105 miles north of Baghdad. A KBR manager said the shooting occurred at 8:30 a.m. near the project manager's house.

Velez was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division in 2005. He deployed to Iraq from August 2006 to October 2007 with the division's 3rd Brigade. It made its second deployment to Iraq a year later.

The brigade returned this month from another yearlong Iraq deployment.