Army mother faces charges
Refused to deploy; cited care of child
SAVANNAH, Ga. - The Army said yesterday that it has filed criminal charges against a single-mother soldier who refused to deploy to Afghanistan last year, arguing she had no family able to care for her infant son.
Specialist Alexis Hutchinson, a 21-year-old Army cook, could face a prison sentence and a dishonorable discharge if she is convicted by a court-martial. But first, an officer will be appointed to decide whether there is enough evidence to try her.
Hutchinson’s lawyer, Rai Sue Sussman, said she hopes the case can be settled without a military trial. She said the Army should consider Hutchinson’s reason for not deploying overseas - that she was afraid of what would happen to her baby.
“There are other routes if they really want to punish her,’’ Sussman said yesterday. “I don’t think the situation was serious enough to warrant a criminal matter.’’
Hutchinson, of Oakland, Calif., was scheduled to deploy from Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah on Nov. 5. She skipped her unit’s flight, saying the only relative she had to take care of her 10-month-old son - her mother - was overwhelmed by the task and backed out a few days before Hutchinson’s departure date.
Kevin Larson, a spokesman for Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, said Hutchinson was charged Tuesday with missing movement, for missing her overseas flight; being absent without leave; dereliction of duty; and insubordinate conduct.
The stiffest charge, missing movement, carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a dishonorable discharge.
“The charges against Specialist Hutchinson stem from the fact she didn’t do her duty,’’ Larson said. “They know their deployment dates. They have to show up.’’
Sussman said Hutchinson was at her apartment when her unit deployed.
Sussman said the soldier was afraid because one of her superiors had told her she would have to deploy and turn her child over to the state foster care system.
Larson said the Army would not deploy a single parent with no one to care for her child.