Schofield soldier pleads not guilty to murder in Iraq
By William Cole
Advertiser Military Writer
A Schofield Barracks soldier this morning pleaded not guilty in military court to charges that he murdered a civilian contractor on a U.S. military base in northern Iraq.
Spc. Beyshee O. Velez, 32, a medic and three-time Iraq war veteran, is accused of fatally shooting contractor Lucas "Trent" Vinson at Contingency Operating Base Speicher on Sept. 13, 2009.
An Army mental fitness board previously found that Velez had experienced a "short psychotic episode," but the board also determined that the soldier was fit to stand trial, according to Velez' civilian attorney, Philip D. Cave.
On March 11, the commander of the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks referred charges against Velez including two counts of murder, three counts of assault, and one count of fleeing apprehension, officials said.
Cave said the government has provided initial funding for the defense for a ballistics and crime scene expert, forensic pathologist and forensic psychologist to evaluate the case.
A military judge presiding over the case this morning at Wheeler Army Airfield said he wanted to know by July 13 whether Velez would be seeking a trial by a judge or jury. A date of Oct. 12 was set as the "likely" trial date.