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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, February 11, 2010

Army hearing set in Iraq shooting death

Advertiser Staff

A hearing will be held Tuesday for a 31-year-old Schofield Barracks soldier charged with the shooting death of a civilian contractor Sept. 13 on an American base in Iraq.

Spc. Beyshee O. Velez was charged with two counts of murder under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, three counts of assault and one count of fleeing apprehension. Although he is charged with two "specifications" of murder, the Army said Velez can only be convicted of one of the counts.

Velez is accused of shooting to death Lucas "Trent" Vinson, 27, a contractor who worked for Houston-based KBR at a base in the city of Tikrit. Vinson worked there with his father, Myron "Bugsy" Vinson, and an uncle.

KBR is a support contractor that provides troops with essential services, including housing, meals, mail delivery and laundry.

The Article 32 hearing, similar to a civilian grand jury, is scheduled to begin Tuesday at Schofield Barracks and is expected to last several days, the Army said.

The Army did not provide details of the incident, but Vinson's family told The Associated Press that Vinson was shot three times after offering a ride to an American soldier who flagged down Vinson's vehicle on the base. No other information was provided.

A murder conviction carries a maximum sentence of life behind bars and a dishonorable discharge. The maximum penalty for a conviction of assault with a deadly weapon is eight years confinement and a dishonorable discharge.

Velez, assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, is in pre-trial confinement at Ford Island, the Army said.

The investigating officer in the case will forward a recommendation to the 25th Infantry Division commanding general, who will determine what, if any, charges will be referred to a court martial.