Army Maj. Matthew Golsteyn has pleaded not guilty to the Army’s allegations that he murdered a suspected Taliban bomb maker in 2010.
Golsteyn was arraigned in military court on Thursday and it was later announced that he pleaded not guilty. Golsteyn is charged with one count of pre-meditated murder on Feb. 22, 2010. He has admitted to killing a Taliban bomb maker, whom he identified as the terrorist responsible for the deaths of two U.S. Marines he was commanding, and that the act was justified during wartime.
There are no trial dates set, nor are there any other pre-trial hearings with military judge Army Lt. Col. Christopher Martin as of Monday.
Golsteyn’s civilian defense attorney, Phillip Stackhouse, issued a statement to American Military News and said:
“The Army is attempting to rewrite history and reverse the outcome of Maj. Golsteyn’s 2015 board of inquiry which determined that this allegation was meritless and did not meet even the lowest standards of evidence. This prosecution now mischaracterizes justifiable action against a Taliban bomb maker as premeditated murder of an innocent. Our defense of this case will raise troubling questions about the dubious prosecution of this case, the so-called ‘new’ evidence and witnesses, and the questionable decisions made by U.S. Army leadership at Fort Bragg and beyond. It’s ironic that the prosecutors’ evidence in this case is far weaker than that which justified the deadly drone attacks on the enemy combatant ‘Jihadi John,’ whose death the Pentagon enthusiastically announced two days after the deciding to prosecute Maj. Golsteyn.”
This was the first time Golsteyn had appeared in court over the charge of premeditated murder.
In 2010, he admitted to the CIA during a job interview to killing a terrorist whom he said was responsible for making the bombs that killed two other U.S. service members. There was an investigation at the time, and Golsteyn was cleared of wrongdoing after the Army determined there was insufficient evidence to charge him.
But then, in 2016, Golsteyn appeared in a Fox News interview and admitted again to killing the terrorist bomb maker, and the Army opened a second investigation, charging Golsteyn with premeditated murder, which carries a potential life sentence in prison or the death penalty.
In March, Golsteyn waived his Article 32 hearing, which is meant to present evidence and determine whether or not a service member accused of a crime should be court-martialed. After evidence is presented, an officer is to make a recommendation to a commander on whether or not to prosecute, according to previous reports.
In May, the Army decided that the case would move forward to a court-martial trial.
Golsteyn’s case has caught the attention of President Donald Trump.
In December 2018, Trump said he would review the case.
“At the request of many. I will be reviewing the case of a ‘U.S. Military hero,’ Major Matt Golsteyn, who is charged with murder,” Trump tweeted.
And Trump last month was reportedly preparing to review pardons for Golsteyn, Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher and other service members accused of war times, per The New York Times.
Back in February, the lead investigator in the case – Sgt. 1st Class Mark Delacruz, an Army Criminal Investigation Command special agent – was charged with stolen valor.
Delacruz allegedly falsified documents to show that he’d earned awards he actually never received, and even went so far as to wear the awards, including the Purple Heart, Air Assault Badge, Pathfinder Badge and Combat Action Badge.
Stackhouse at the time wrote a memo to the Army Criminal Investigation Command saying Delacruz “held himself out as a Special Forces soldier, infantryman, sniper, and bragged about killing people in combat.”