9, 2009 49: military cases in which the death penalty was sought since 1984 15: convictions in capital trials since then 2: times among the 15 that the commanding general has commuted the sentence to life 8: times an appeals court has reversed the conviction, commuted the sentence or ordered a new trial 5: defendants on death row, 3 of whom have appeals pending in military courts 2: condemned servicemen who have exhausted their military appeals. The other had his death writ signed by President George W.
Bush, but his case has been appealed to federal district court.
Most of these aggravating factors -- such as killing more than one person or being the triggerman in a felony murder -- are similar to those found in civilian capital punishment schemes.Other factors -- such as committing an offense with the intent to avoid hazardous duty or knowingly endangering a mission -- are unique to the military.HOW MILITARY AND CIVILIAN TRIALS DIFFER A service member is entitled to an Article 32 hearing before he or she can be charged with a serious crime and face a court-martial.Similar to a grand jury proceeding, such a hearing is held in open court with attorneys for both sides present.Once decided, the convening authority picks those servicemembers who will serve as panel members/jurors.
One requirement for the panel is that if the accused so chooses, at least 1/3 of the panel must consist of enlisted personnel. (Rules for Courts-Martial 501(a)).(Unless otherwise noted, source: D.For crimes that occurred on or after November 17, 1997, a sentence of life without the possibility of parole became available.Prior to this legislation, those servicemembers serving a life sentence would have become eligible for parole after serving 10 years.•The commanding general who convenes the court-martial must approve the sentence and the conviction and can commute sentences he or she thinks are too harsh.•Before a condemned service member can be put to death, the president must sign an affirmative order explicitly approving the execution. In 1983, the Armed Forces Court of Appeals held in U. A 1997 amendment to the Uniform Code of Military Justice offers a previously unavailable alternative to the death penalty.