Army Specialist (SPC) Neftaly Platero served honorably for four years in the United States Marine Corps. After having relished his experience, completing his assignment, and being discharged honorably, he elected to continue his military service by switching to the United States Army. He was a stellar Marine and soldier, and his records reflect his commitment and dedication to the armed forces.
As part of his assignment with the Army, Platero was deployed to Fallujah, Iraq. He shared a room with other soldiers on his makeshift base. According to Specialist Platero there were disagreements on the cleanliness of the quarters. While arguments ensured, there was nothing severe that warranted separation of the soldiers or discipline.
On September 23, 2010, the events that forever changed the lives of Specialist Platero and his roommates occurred. A shooting happened in the room. Two of the occupants were killed and the other was severely injured. There was an immediate supposition that Specialist Platero was the culprit even though there is inadequate proof to conclude he was even in the room when the shooting occurred.
In the investigation it revealed there were 18 rounds fired. Many other members on the base thought the base was under attack. The link to Specialist Platero was a soldier who looked into the hallway and allegedly saw Platero leave the room and head towards the building interior. It was never determined if Platero was present during the shooting or if he entered and the exited the room after discovering the bloody aftermath.
Another soldier made contact with Platero and began to check him for wounds. However, realizing Platero was not injured, he restrained Specialist Platero and shouted that Platero was the culprit. There were no eyewitnesses to the shooting. All of this occurred in a matter of minutes.
Command was notified as was CID. Platero was already the prime suspect due to the public disagreements regarding hygiene and cleanliness. In essence he was accused and convicted at the scene.
Immediately following the incident, a CID agent was sent to question Specialist Platero. He allegedly ordered Platero to stand and told him that he had embarrassed the United States Army, the unit and himself. He indicated he was so embarrassed he would not use Specialist Platero’s name anymore. Other witnesses to this interaction have indicated the CID agent referred to Platero as a disgrace. He was at that point convicted in the Court of public opinion. Platero requested a lawyer when questioned. This stopped the questioning and Platero’s clothes were collected as part of the investigation.
ISSUES WITH THE CASE
According to Specialist Platero, he was returning from the lab after concluding a conversation with this girlfriend. It has not been determined if phone records confirmed this call. Specialist Platero was dressed in shorts and flip flop shoes. Platero indicated he left his rifle on his bed. While returning to his room he heard the gunshots. Being unaware of what was going on, Specialist Platero intended to secure his weapon as he did not know whether the base was under attack.
As he approached his room, Platero could see smoke that had drifted into the hallway. He opened the door to his room and discovered the aftermath of the shooting including two casualties and one severely wounded soldier. He then exited into the hallway where he was seen by a fellow soldier.
The case was initiated and set for trial. In June of 2013, Specialist Platero, without testifying, received a life sentence without the possibility of parole. This occurred without any eyewitnesses, three different sets of fingerprints on the trigger of the weapon used In the shooting, no gunshot residue testing, and an otherwise haphazard investigation. There were inconsistent statements and little forensic evidence was collected.
In his trial, Specialist Platero did not testify on the advice of his counsel. This fact, along with the inadequate investigation led to the ultimate conviction of Specialist Platero. Given the numerous questions this case is ripe to reopen and request a new trial.
FUTURE OF PLATERO’S CASE
Currently, Specialist Platero is represented by C. Ed Massey who is evaluating the record of trial and preparing a motion requesting a new trial.
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