Local Air Force officer picked for court-martial panel

A Cannon Air Force Base lieutenant colonel has been named to a court martial jury panel that will determine the future of an Illinois National Guard pilot who mistakenly dropped a bomb that killed four Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan on April 17, 2002.
According to the Air Force news service, on June 30 Maj. Harry Schmidt was referred for trial on charges of dereliction of duty by willfully failing to exercise appropriate flight discipline over his aircraft and failing to apply with applicable rules and special instructions. Schmidt was offered the opportunity to plead guilty on June 25 and receive administrative penalties, but declined.
The Associated Press reported that Schmidt, who could face up to six months in prison if convicted, declined the offer of an administrative settlement because he wanted to clear his name through a trial. Schmidt has argued that he dropped the bomb in self-defense, thinking that firing from the ground troops — actually a Canadian training exercise — was a Taliban attack on his aircraft.
The Air Force is not officially releasing the names of the 12 officers appointed to the jury panel, but according to a report in the National Post newspaper in Canada that was later confirmed by Schmidt’s attorney, they include Lt. Col. Ricky Davis of Cannon and Lt. Col. David O’Nan of Holloman Air Force Base, both in New Mexico. Other officers are from Virginia, Maryland, Louisiana, Nevada, North Dakota, Idaho, and South Carolina.
As with civilian juries, the prosecution and defense may both challenge jurors, though the final panel must have at least five members. A court date will be set after preliminaries are completed.

While responding early in the morning of July 2 to an alarm at a Clovis day care business, police heard a loud crashing sound and saw a 37-year-old Clovis resident fall out of a window on the south side of the building.
Montano was ordered to stop but fled by foot; the police service dog “Robbie” assisted in capturing him. After treatment for a dog bite at Plains Regional Medical Center, police took Montano to the Curry County Adult Detention Center where he remains on charges of commercial burglary and possession of burglary tools, criminal damage, resisting and eluding a peace officer, commercial burglary and larceny, and violation of probation.
A 38-year-old Clovis resident also was arrested at the same location and charged with being an accessory to burglary and conspiracy to commit burglary, but was released July 3 on an appearance bond.

The annual State Police auction is coming up and will offer 400 items ranging from cars to heavy equipment for sale to the public.
According to a press release, the auction will begin at 9 a.m. on July 19 at the New Mexico State Police Complex on 4491 Cerrillos Road in Santa Fe. Inspection day is July 18 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Other items offered for sale include pickup trucks, 4×4’s, game and fish units, and miscellaneous items from state agencies, cities and counties.

After selling alcohol to minors on April 26, two Clovis businesses have made compromise agreements with the Alcohol and Gaming Division of the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing admitting the violation and accepting penalties.
Town and Country Food Store on 2200 W. Seventh St. and Kelly’s Bar and Grill on 2208 N. Prince St. each agreed to pay a $1,000 fine and have their liquor sales permit suspended for one business day. Kelly’s sales were suspended Monday; the agreement provides for Town and Country to work out the suspension day by mutual consent with the Alcohol and Gaming Division.
Cops and Courts is compiled by CNJ staff writer Darrell Maurina. He can be contacted at 763-6991 or: darrell_maurina@link.freedom.com