A reader reports that on July 6, 2018, Senior Airman Andrew Witt was resentenced by a panel of officer and enlisted members to life without the possibility of parole.

Witt’s 2005 conviction of the premeditated murder of a fellow Airman and his wife, and of the attempted murder of another Airman, earned him a death sentence. The Air Force CCA reversed the sentence – finding that Witt’s defense team was deficient in failing to investigate three areas relevant for sentencing – in United States v. Witt, 72 M.J. 727 (A.F. Ct. Crim. App. 2013) (en banc) (noted here). But the Air Force Appellate Government Division sought reconsideration and, in a dramatic reversal, the CCA reinstated Witt’s death sentence in United States v. Witt, 73 M.J. 738 (A.F. Ct. Crim. App. 2014) (en banc) (discussed here). That reversal of fortune was our #7 Military Justice Story of 2014.

CAAF then conducted a mandatory review of the case (because it involved a sentence to death), but the court limited oral argument to just two issues: Whether an en banc CCA can reconsider a prior en banc decision, and whether such reconsideration is permitted when the composition of the court changes from the first decision to the second. In a short and unanimous opinion issued in 2016 CAAF concluded that such reconsideration is allowed but that three judges who participated in the reconsideration in Witt’s case were disqualified from doing so. CAAF then set aside the CCA’s second decision and reinstated the first decision (that set aside the death sentence), remanding the case for a sentence rehearing. (CAAFlog case page).

4 Responses to “Witt resentenced to LWOP”

  1. Brian Bouffard says:

    Outstanding job by this Air Force defense team!  Congratulations to Major Grethe Hahn, USAF!

  2. Advocaat says:

    Can anyone provide details on how the hearing unfolded?

  3. Cloudesley Shovell says:

    On the one hand, there are criminals who deserve the death penalty.  It’s a shame that courts twist themselves in pretzels to avoid affirming those sentences when they are imposed, except in the most truly egregious cases.  On the other hand, knowing that death sentences are rarely affirmed, and even more rarely ever ultimately approved by the President and carried out, I have to wonder why the gov’t continues to devote such time and effort when it’s much easier to get an LWOP sentence through appeal.
    I have a theory or two on why that is, but mostly the musings of a dottering old dead admiral without evidentiary support.  Anyone else have any thoughts?
    Kind regards,

  4. DCGoneGalt says:

    CS:  Because money and litigation success don’t matter in the military.  The money is just a given no matter how bad the situation gets (death penalty appellate success, never carried out, millions wasted or just look at the never-ending fiasco of Gitmo).
    If a senior DoJ official had that record they would be sacked.  In the military, they’re passed either a GO with nowhere to go or in a position that requires them to kiss the GO rings.