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Teo Peter’s Killer Waits for the Verdict

Autor: Marina Constantinoiu 29 Iul 2005 - 00:00
Teo Peter’s Killer Waits for the Verdict

Cristopher VanGoethem, the marine who was driving the car that killed the bass player of the Compact band, Teo Peter, is accused of many things, but the most controversial accusation is the one of…homicide by misadventure. This seems to be the conclusion of the hearings that took place in the USA.

The pleas in the lawsuit of sergeant Christopher VanGoethem, the ones of the prosecutor’s and he ones of the defense lawyers ended on Tuesday, says the US Army publication, Stars and Stripes. According to the officer that takes care of the case, Lieutenant Colonel Stewart Couch, VanGoethem managed to gather many accusations against himself, but the most controversial one is the one of "homicide by misadventure". Couch is concerned about the possible "unfunded accumulation of accusations against VanGoethem and about the lack of solid evidence to support some of these accusations"

THE INTERSECTION The true problem of the case, according to Couch, is the configuration of the "Polona-Dacia crossroads", where the accident took place on the 4th of December 2004, at 4:30 a.m., and the role of it in the accident. "Do you agree that the homicide by misadventure accusation is the real controversy of this case?" Couch asked the prosecutors and the defense lawyers.

VanGoethem, aged 32, is a former con of the security Detachment of the marines of the Bucharest US Embassy. He is accused because of the accident on the 4th of December 2004, which resulted in the death of Teo Peter, bass player and producer of the Compact band. During the two-day long hearings, Couch listened to the contradictory statements regarding the accident. The statements belonged to an officer, an accident specialist, and to an agent of the Penal Investigations Service of the American Marine Corps. Actually, the problem of the intersection has become the central issue of the hearings, and there are a lot of scenarios that appeared to try and find explanations for the accident caused by sergeant VanGoethem.

OPINIONS At the closing of the case, the prosecution’s representative, Capt. Charles Miracle, stated in front of Couch that the configuration of the intersection shouldn’t be discussed upon anymore. "The intersection’s configuration could be at least a mitigatory factor, if VanGoethem is found guilty of charge", Stackhouse said. "But I don’t think it will reach to that", he added.

STRONG DEFENSE Stackhouse drew attention on the fact that, according to the testimony of the accident specialist, VanGoethem was driving, in the moment of the impact, with a speed lower than the legal speed limit, while the taxi was going with a speed greater than the limit. "The fact he didn’t drive with a high speed should matter a lot", Stackhouse also said. Couch expressed his "sound concern" regarding the accusation of "intoxication and inadequate behavior" against VanGoethem, which refers to another accident, on the 1st of March 2004, when the sergeant drove his car into a tree.

According to MarineCorpsTimes.com, a nurse who examined VanGoethem after the incident in March 2004 told the investigators that she thought the sergeant was drunk and that the sergeant himself admitted he had drunk five or six bears a few hours before the accident. However, he wasn’t tested at that time and the defense said the nurse’s statement was the only evidence supporting that accusation.

"THIN" Besides the two statements of the members of the Bucharest US Embassy, the prosecution built its case on the under-oath testimonies of three security guards from the US Embassy, not on the percentage of the alcohol in the sergeant’s blood, says Stars and Stripes. The statements presented to the Court show that none of the five witnesses didn’t see VanGoethem behaving as he was intoxicated, even though some of them said they supposed he had drunk alcohol. "I think there are no proofs", Couch stated.

ADULTERY As for the accident in December, Couch appreciated there "was no proof" to show that the assumptive adultery of VanGoethem "prejudiced the order and the discipline" or that it discredited the American Marines Corps, as the sergeant was accused of.

Couch also stated "he had thought a lot of those accusation implying the commission of a crime", according to which VanGoethem asked his mistress to erase the e-mails received from him and to further lie about their whereabouts on the 3rd and 4th of December 2004.

Couch said Ilse Wentworth, the woman in question, wasn’t found in time to testify. "I didn’t listen to her version", Couch said, adding that the proofs are missing. He also said that the prosecution’s accusations that VanGoethem would have watched porno materials on Government computers are "insufficient".

WAITING A spokesperson of the Quantico naval base stated the Lieutenant-Colonel Stewart Crouch will send his recommendations to Colonel William E. Rizzio, the commander of the marines’ Quantico Security Battalion, in two weeks time. Rizzio will be able to choose between going with Couch’s recommendations or with his own opinion. The hearings ended on Tuesday, but Couch accepted the prosecution’s request of presenting a written final plea on the 2nd of August, because of the complexity of the presented material, says MarineCorpsTimes.com.

REPAIRS In an interview for a Romanian TV station, Peter’s son, Teofil Peter jr., stated he would probably ask for moral amends from the Marine Corps, but he didn’t specify any sum, says Stars and Stripes. In his final plea, Stackhouse asked for "VanGoethem to receive an administrative or a punishment easier" than the Martial Court, which is the same a penal lawsuit. "We believe that there are only few proofs to support only a few of the accusations", Stackhouse stated.
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