Local News

Soldier charged in Bragg sex assault seeks to move trial

Posted August 16, 2010 4:35 p.m. EDT

— An 82nd Airborne Division soldier charged in a sexual assault on Fort Bragg last December asked a military judge on Monday to move his trial.

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. His court-martial is scheduled to begin the week of Sept. 27.

Pernell's military lawyers asked that the trial be moved because of Fayetteville's relatively close-knit community and the intense media coverage surrounding sex assaults in the area.

Prosecutors argued that soldiers are routinely reassigned to Fort Bragg, so some potential jurors might be unfamiliar with the case against Pernell.

The judge didn't rule on the request Monday.

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.

Prosecutors want some of those victims to testify during the military trial, but the judge didn't rule on that motion either.

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.

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