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Seven soldiers linked with death of a Fort Bragg paratrooper are set to face trial

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Seven North Carolina-based soldiers who were camping with a Fort Bragg paratrooper whose partial remains were found along the coast in 2020 are facing courts-martial for conspiracy.

Specialist Enrique Roman-Martinez Eight was last seen by the other seven soldiers assigned to the 37th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division during their outing to Cape Lookout National Seashore in North Carolina over Memorial Day weekend on May 22, 2020. 

Roman-Martinez’s severed head washed up six days later, but his body was never recovered. The manner of his death is listed as a homicide, but no one has been charged with his death.

Court records state that seven soldiers who were the last to see Roman-Martinez alive are all charged with conspiracy and failure to obey a direct order or regulation related to travel during a travel ban, The Fayetteville Observer reported. 

Citing court documents, the soldiers identified by the newspaper are: Specials Juan Avila, Alex R. Becerra, Joshua L. Curry and Benjamin E. Sibley, as well as Privates Annamarie L. Cochell, Private First Classes Samad A. Landrum and Sergeant Samuel O. Moore. 

Becerra, Cochell and Landrum all told investigators that they left the island at 3 a.m. on May 22, 2020, to board a ferry in Davis, North Carolina, but omitted the presence of a fourth soldier, according to the charge sheets. 

It is not clear if the fourth soldier was Roman-Martinez. 

Army Specialist Enrique Roman-Martinez, 21, disappeared during a camping trip with fellow soldiers on an island off the coast of North Carolina on May 22. The case was ruled a homicide a week later after part of his body washed up on the beach

Army Specialist Enrique Roman-Martinez, 21, disappeared during a camping trip with fellow soldiers on an island off the coast of North Carolina on May 22. The case was ruled a homicide a week later after part of his body washed up on the beach

Specialist Alex R. Becerra

Private First Class Samad A. Landrum

Becerra (left) and Landrum (right) were part of the 37th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. According to court documents, Becerra and Landrum, as well as another are each charged with making a false official statement, disobeying a lawful order and using LSD, a hallucinogenic drug on the night of Roman-Martinez’s disappearance

Josh Curry

Annamarie Cochell

Five other officers were also linked with Ramon-Martinez’s murder although no charges related to the case have been filed yet. There names are: Joshua L. Curry (left), Annamarie L. Cochell (right),  Samuel O. Moore, Juan Avila and Benjamin E. Sibley

Additionally, Becerra, Landrum and Cochell face other charges such as using LSD, disobeying a superior or making false statements. Officials have said those charges are unrelated to the death of Roman-Martinez.

All seven have all been arraigned and their trials are scheduled from May to September.

Becerra, who made the 911 to report Roman-Martinez missing, is the only member of the accused seven to have been already arraigned after making a court appearance on January 13. His case is set to unfold between May 31 and June 3.

An Army Criminal Investigation Division spokeswoman has said Roman-Martinez’s case remains open, but was moved to ‘cold case status.’

The 82nd Airborne said the Army Criminal Investigation Division is offering a $50,000 reward for information that resolves the investigation.  

The soldiers Roman-Martinez was camping with said they last saw him at their campsite at Cape Lookout National Seashore (pictured) on the night of May 22

The soldiers Roman-Martinez was camping with said they last saw him at their campsite at Cape Lookout National Seashore (pictured) on the night of May 22

The map above shows the area where Roman-Martinez was camping when he went missing

The map above shows the area where Roman-Martinez was camping when he went missing

Roman-Martinez joined the Army at age 17 and served as a human resource specialist in the 82nd Airborne Division's Headquarters Company, 37th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team

Roman-Martinez joined the Army at age 17 and served as a human resource specialist in the 82nd Airborne Division’s Headquarters Company, 37th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team

Roman-Martinez was a native of Chino, California, and served as a human resource specialist in the 82nd Airborne Division’s Headquarters Company, 37th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team.

He was officially reported as a missing person in North Carolina on May 22, 2020. 

The seven or so other soldiers who were with him told investigators that they last saw him just before midnight, and the next morning they realized that he had vanished without his cellphone, wallet, t-shirt or his glasses.

‘For them to say he left his glasses was a huge red flag,’ the victim’s sister, Griselda Martinez said. ‘My mother and I knew something was wrong.’

Martinez said officials have not offered the family much information regarding her brother’s case and that they’ve been told not to speak publicly about it.

‘They’ve asked us not to say anything that might impede the investigation or keep them from arresting someone,’ she said. 

Martinez said her brother joined the Army when he was 17 as a way to pay for college, and because he thought it would teach him discipline and responsibility.

‘We didn’t want him to go,’ she said. ‘He was set on it. He thought it would be good for him.’

Roman-Martinez, a native of Chino, California, is pictured with his mother Maria and his niece and nephew last year

Roman-Martinez, a native of Chino, California, is pictured with his mother Maria and his niece and nephew last year

Roman-Martinez joined the Army at age 17 and served as a human resource specialist in the 82nd Airborne Division's Headquarters Company, 37th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team

Roman-Martinez joined the Army at age 17 and served as a human resource specialist in the 82nd Airborne Division’s Headquarters Company, 37th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team

Roman-Martinez's sister Griselda Martinez (pictured together) said her family is still seeking answers to what happened to her brother nearly two months ago

Roman-Martinez’s sister Griselda Martinez (pictured together) said her family is still seeking answers to what happened to her brother nearly two months ago

Roman-Martinez excelled as a soldier, earning many awards and decorations including the Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon and the Army Parachutist Badge.

Martinez said her brother’s attitude toward the Army appeared to darken in the year before his death.

‘He started saying that he didn’t want to be there he just wanted to come home,’ she said.

But she said that he did not sound at all suicidal as they frequently talked about their plans for the future.

In the days after Roman-Martinez was reported missing, Martinez and her mother, Maria, flew to North Carolina to visit the campsite where he was last seen.

Martinez said she was taken aback when she saw the landscape of the island, which is small and has few trees, making it difficult for someone to get lost.

Now Martinez said her family lives in constant pain while they await an explanation on what happened to her brother.

‘My mom doesn’t sleep,’ she said. ‘She stays up all night thinking about what might have happened.’

Fort Bragg, covering nearly 172,000 acres, is one of the world’s largest military complexes, according to its website. It has approximately 57,000 military personnel, 11,000 civilian employees and 23,000 family members. 

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