I had gone through some prepping for the court martial from my lawyer Captain Jokinen. I don’t know if I was really fully prepared though, but I here I was.
During the beginning and throughout the trial, Colonel Grainger discussed all of my rights and explained the proceedings to me. He told me that I could remain seated and, that I needed to answer all questions carefully.
Colonel Grainger explained to me that “Pleading guilty was equivalent a conviction and was the strongest form of proof known to the law.”
I would be pleading guilty to all of the charges but one.
To the charge of desertion I would plead not guilty, but to the lesser charge of AWOL I would plead guilty. The main difference between the two charges was the intention to return and the amount of punishment attached to each one.
For each charge, I would have to talk about specifics with dates, times and descriptions in order for me to convince the Judge and verify that I was actually guilty.
I talked about how I was arrested a week or so prior to running away. I had never been in trouble with the law before and so I was scared to go to jail.
Running away to Houston I knew that I could get my hands on drugs. Because that is where I had been buying them from.
I told him about living in hotels and then staying with friends. He asked if I had any authorization or permission to be gone.
“No, Your Honor.”
He wanted me to discuss how I came back into control of the Army.
I told him how the arrest went down. That the Louisiana State Troopers and CID apprehended me after sending in the Deputies.
Then I was detained overnight in the Rapides Parish Jail until the military came and got me and turned me in to the Installation Detention Facilityl.
Colonel Grainger was okay with my statement regarding the charge of AWOL.
Possession of (MDMD) aka “ecstasy”
He asked me to talk about the possession charge.
I told him about the film canister that had the left over residue that they found on me. It contained ecstasy and I knew it was the drug because I consumed them all.
He asked me how I knew that the drugs were actually ecstasy (MDMA) and not caffeine or something similar. I told him that I knew because I had consumed some previously and the effect was the same as the other times I had used the drug.
The effect was nothing like caffeine but more like speed. I bought them in Alexandria at a club that was known to have dealers there.
I also knew that it was ecstasy because we had to avoid the law in order to purchase it. It wasn’t available over the counter.
He asked me if I had any legal authorization or justification to possess MDMA.
“No, Your Honor.”
He asked me if I was using it, in effect, for my own high.
“Yes, Your Honor.”
He asked me if I was a medical expert testing the drug, a doctor prescribing it or part of official law enforcement duties?
“No, Your Honor.”
Once the judge was satisfied with my answers we moved on to the next charges.
Distribution of MDMA and LSD
The wrongful distribution charges of MDMA and LSD were in various places in the states of Texas and Louisiana over a span of almost a year.
The judge wanted me talk about a specific sale on a specific day for each drug, in each state. I was supposed to recall all the events relating to one incident.
My testimony began with telling him that I started distributing at first, just to help my friends get it so they could feel the way I felt on the drugs.
I wasn’t doing it for money at that time but it escalated into a means of survival income after going AWOL.
I also could have as much as I wanted to feed my habit because the more I sold, the more I could keep for myself.
At this point Colonel Grainger said I was being too vague. He kept insisting on specifics.
Names, dates, locations, amounts of both drugs and money.
Trying to come up with something that fit his descriptions, I said “Some of my friends in the unit – I’d rather not disclose everybody’s names, Your Honor – but…”
He shot out in an angry tone..”I’m sorry, I didn’t hear the last part!”
I repeated what I said, and in so many words said,
“I am not going to make this easy for you. How you are explaining everything is not good enough. You need to convince me that you sold dope. You are under oath and I want you to tell me the truth and I want specifics. Do you understand?”
“Yes, Your Honor”
He asked me if I wanted to continue or take a small break to talk to my counsel?
I took the break.
That kind of shook me up and I felt as if things were going sour. My lawyer calmed me down and told me that I just needed to give him enough information to convince him I was guilty of selling drugs.
After returning to the court room, I agreed to the request of more specific information.
Although what I said next was not completely true it was based on encounters that I could remember as if it were true.
I made up a story about selling ecstasy in Louisiana using soldiers names that were already out of the Army.
I made up a story about selling ecstasy in Houston and I used my dealer’s name.
I used the actual events leading up to the arrest of myself and Private First Class Eddie Gaines. He had been caught with LSD that I helped him get.
I figured no harm, no foul on that story. Because, he had already confessed to the whole thing. It was his statement that led to me having these LSD charges.
I told the judge that we bought a hundred hits for a hundred dollars, and sold them for six dollars apiece.
When the judge finally asked for more specific sales of LSD, I finally said,
“There were so many times, Your Honor, it’s hard to be specific. I was doing it as a job because I didn’t think I could get a job because I was AWOL, Your Honor. I was selling every weekend.”
He seemed to be in agreement that further specifics were unnecessary.
He asked me if my plea of guilty would admit that each element discussed would accurately describe what I did.
“Yes, Your Honor.”
He requested to know what the maximum punishment was.
The prosecution figured thirty-six years, six months, dishonorable discharge, total forfeiture of all pay and allowances, reduction to Private E-1, and the government felt that a fine would be appropriate.
Captain Jokinen agreed that the maximums were correct but that a fine didn’t make sense.
Colonel Grainger asked me if I understood the maximums.
He told me that if I plead guilty that he was supposed to take into consideration that as my first step towards rehabilitation and give me a more lenient sentence.
I was supposed to plead guilty not for a lesser sentence, but because in my own mind I felt that I was really guilty.
I answered, “Yes, Your Honor.”
He asked me, “Do you still want to plead guilty?”
Again I answered, “Yes, Your Honor.”
Captain Jokinen told me we needed to stand up.
The Judge began his announcement of findings.
“Private David C. Mike, it is my duty as military judge to find you, in accordance with your pleas..”