Local News

December trial set for Bragg sex assault case

Posted September 27, 2010 11:48 a.m. EDT
Updated September 27, 2010 6:27 p.m. EDT

— A military judge on Monday set a Dec. 8 trial date for an 82nd Airborne Division soldier charged in a sexual assault on Fort Bragg.

Army Spc. Aaron Michael Pernell, 23, is charged with two counts each of rape and burglary and one count each of attempted rape, assault consummated by battery and housebreaking.

If convicted by a military jury, he would face a life sentence.

Pernell also faces prosecution in civilian courts on more than 30 charges in connection with six attacks in Fayetteville and Hoke County between 2008 and 2009.

Investigators said DNA from Pernell matches semen found on the clothing of a Fort Bragg woman who was sexually assaulted on Dec. 13. The soldier also is charged in a second break-in on post.

His court-martial had been scheduled to begin the week of Sept. 27, but Col. Gary Brockington, the military judge handling the case, earlier granted a defense motion to delay the trial.

On Monday, Brockington approved defense motions that the government hire a DNA expert to help them analyze evidence samples and a psychologist or psychiatrist to study the memory recall abilities of witnesses.

The DNA expert would help evaluate evidence from four of the civilian assaults with which Pernell is charged. Prosecutors plan to present evidence of those cases during his court-martial.

The judge denied the defense lawyers' request to hire a private investigator.

Defense attorney Capt. Chris Koschnitsky said the defense team needs the investigator to help review and follow-up on the work of 10 law enforcement agencies that investigated a string of sex assaults in Cumberland and Hoke counties over a two-year period.