It appears that the saga that was the Dearing case has ended with Dearing’s plea in a Naval Station Norfolk courtroom and a 10 year sentence, essentially time served. CAAF set aside the conviction based on the failure to give a self-defense instruction. The case was remanded with several hiccups, reported here and here, including the Navy’s seeming inability to transfer Dearing to pre-trial confinement. The Virginian-Pilot reported that Dearing pled guilty last week, and may be free today (will we see another Dearing writ on that . . . ). The military judge sentenced him to 40 years confinement. The terms of his PTA suspended all confinement in excess of 10 years. The following interesting exchange is included in the Pilot story.
Dearing pleaded not guilty in 2000, saying he had acted in self-defense. According to court records, his lawyers asked the judge, Clark A. Price, to instruct the jury about self-defense and escalating violence in a fight.
Price chose not to do so – and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces cited that error, and an appeal so lengthy it violated his rights, when it overturned Dearing’s conviction last September.
Dearing told a different story Wednesday. Responding to questions from Booker, Dearing testified that none of the victims had threatened him.
“You were actually the aggressor here?” Booker asked.
“Yes, sir,” Dearing responded.
“You were never placed in a position of helplessness? You weren’t pinned down, you weren’t cornered?”
“No, sir,” Dearing replied.