State News

DA: Slain soldier case stays in civilian court

Posted August 1, 2008

— The case of an Army sergeant accused of killing a fellow soldier, who was the mother of his unborn child, will stay in North Carolina courts, although the military could file a charge of fetal homicide against him, a newspaper reported Friday.

Cumberland County Prosecutor Ed Grannis told The Fayetteville Observer that he didn't believe the case against Sgt. Edgar Patino, 27, would be moved to federal military courts.

Patino is jailed on a first-degree murder charge in the death of Spc. Megan Touma, 23, of Cold Spring, Ky. Touma's body was found in a Fayetteville motel room on June 21. She last was seen June 13, and Patino told police he had been in her room that day.

The newspaper said Patino could be charged with killing Touma's unborn child under the military statutes. Grannis said there hadn't been discussions about letting the Army prosecute the case.

Touma was seven months pregnant when she died.

Fort Bragg spokesman Tom McCollum said the case remains in civilian hands.

Grannis acknowledged the possibility of moving the case, but said he hadn't discussed it with his staff.

"The military doesn't have the caseload that we have," Grannis said. "Their system moves a lot quicker."

Grannis said the military sometimes asks to prosecute cases and his office will agree, but he stressed he had no reason to think it would be moved.

North Carolina and 13 other states don't have a fetal homicide law, the newspaper said.

Patino's wife, Heileen Patino, issued a statement Friday through the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, where her husband was assigned to undergo psychological operations training. The statement asked reporters to leave her alone.

"My family is going through a difficult time. I ask that the news media respect both my privacy and the privacy of my family as we deal with our current circumstances," the statement said.

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  • mtidwell Aug 1, 2008

    However UCMJ does not explain well about double jep; states if tried in Court Martial and convicted then you cannot be tried for same crime, again in Court Martial. "Not sure for civilian court."

    Meant to add if tried and convicted in civ court then tried by Court Martial for same offense not sure how it would be handled.
    Remember you do lose certain rights being in the military. Again uncertain to how they will be applied.

  • mtidwell Aug 1, 2008

    "Their system moves a lot quicker." in reference to Military justice system is not always the case. I was in the Air Force worked in a shop with a fellow Airman (not a friend btw) who was under investigation by FBI for Child Pornography. FBI served arrest with OSI’s permission. FBI turned it over to the Military, took over 9 months before individual went before a US Military Court Martial. Yes off-base jurisdiction can turn over to military, but if he is tried in civilian court he can be tried by Military afterwards and serve more time under their system. He did sign a contract and will not serve his entire term of service; therefore military can also include that with other charges. Articles 77-134 in UMCJ describe punitive actions. However UCMJ does not explain well about double jep; states if tried in Court Martial and convicted then you cannot be tried for same crime, again in Court Martial. Not sure for civilian court.

  • colliedave Aug 1, 2008

    Grannis acknowledged the possibility of moving the case, but said he hadn't discussed it with his staff. "The military doesn't have the caseload that we have," Grannis said. "Their system moves a lot quicker."

    What would be the reason for NOT moving it to a military court? The fact it occurred off base, thus making it a civilian matter? What does the Uniform Code of Military Justice cite in the matter? What does North Carolina Law cite in this matter?
    In the end, who is responsible for making the final decision?

  • Adelinthe Aug 1, 2008

    "The military can do it so why can't NC?"

    Because the man is a military employee and federal law would supersede in that case.

    I'm not sure if federal law considers the death of a fetus in connection with murdering the fetus' mother a crime yet though, but I do know that NC does NOT, which is just shameful.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • ericgibson2009 Aug 1, 2008

    I'm with Tax man on fetal homicide. And yes the Death penalty is needed in the case. And I hope the Judge gives it out.

  • Adelinthe Aug 1, 2008

    "I dont' understand this, how can he be tried in civil court when the act he committed is a crime?"

    It means a civilian court, rather than a military one - and I sure wish they hadn't done this, for the military will execute a soldier criminal, and civilians rarely will.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • didyouhearme Aug 1, 2008

    I dont' understand this, how can he be tried in civil court when the act he committed is a crime? This article is not written well. I think this is the worst of crimes. Nothing worse. He betrayed his country and society.

  • oldschooltarheel Aug 1, 2008

    Try & convict on the federal dime. Also try whoever else "authorities" are thinking about arresting as well in this case. Hopefully co-conspirators will be set aswingin' as well. I suspect they may have wifey in their scopes - wonder if wife of the Marine alleged GF murderer will ever be arrested as a co-conspirator? These cases have some creepy similarities.

  • 4lilboys Aug 1, 2008

    "...although the military could file a charge of fetal homicide against him..."

    The military can do it so why can't NC? Hmmmmm....

  • Mom of two Aug 1, 2008

    The military should step in here.

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