Kerry pushes Pentagon to give dishonorable discharge to U.S. Navy sailor convicted in fatal shooting
BOSTON — John Kerry is pushing the Pentagon to give a dishonorable discharge for a U.S. Navy sailor convicted of the fatal shooting death of his ex-girlfriend, another Navy sailor, in Virginia in 2009.
“I want justice," Kerry said in a statement issued Thursday about Caitlin Trask, the 20-year-old Bradford woman. Darren Mackie, 22, of Wisconsin told authorities that he was horsing around with Trask, and that he did not know the gun was loaded when he shot her in the back of the head. He pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, and was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but was never given a dishonorable discharge.
The case came to Kerry's attention in April of 2009, when Trask's family wrote asking Kerry to pressure the Pentagon to court martial Mackie instead of hand the case over to a civilian court. Ten days later, Kerry wrote a letter seeking a court martial and a military punishment, but he was rebuffed. Although Kerry failed to convince the Navy to prosecute the case in a military court, he has continued his crusade to give Mackie a dishonorable discharge, instead of the "other than honorable" discharge, which would allow him to apply to re-enlist in the Navy at a later date.
An aide said Kerry was continuing to highlight the issue to make sure the case gets the attention it deserves from the Navy. Kerry wrote a letter Thursday to Defense Secretary Robert Gates seeking a full investigation.
The text of the letter is as follows:
Secretary Robert M. Gates
1400 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1400
Dear Mr. Secretary:
On behalf of the family of deceased U.S. Navy sailor Caitlin Trask, who was killed by her former boyfriend on February 12, 2009, I respectfully request an investigation by the Inspector General of the Department of Defense into the conduct of the United States Navy.
The notion that an active duty sailor could shoot and kill another sailor and then manage to avoid a dishonorable discharge is beyond my ability to comprehend. I would ask that the investigation determine if any options remain to facilitate a dishonorable discharge for Darren Mackie and to identify what Navy procedures need to be changed in order to ensure that no such travesty is ever allowed to happen again. Additionally, the investigation should determine if any Navy personnel were derelict in their duty with regards to this case.
Mr. Secretary, I have been working closely with the Trask family for well over a year now in their pursuit of justice for their late daughter. I can attest that this is extremely important to the surviving parents of a young woman who was proudly serving her country. A thorough, objective investigation is absolutely essential.
Thank you for your assistance and cooperation.
John F. Kerry
United States Senate
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