Soldier of Misfortune

Claims of a cover-up in the killing of a metro Detroit man in Iraq

Five years ago, after surviving one tour of duty in Iraq and another in Afghanistan, Cpl. Justin Pope left the Marine Corps to take a lucrative, high-prestige job with a private military contractor providing security at the American embassy in Erbil, Iraq. 

From the time he was a kid growing up in Riverview, Pope always knew he would be in a uniform some day, protecting people. The new job would be an extension of that, providing the experience and advanced training that would further his career.

Instead, it brought an end to his life.

On the night of March 4, 2009, the square-jawed 25-year-old was in his room at the embassy compound when a single bullet from a 9-millimeter semiautomatic handgun fired at point-blank range entered his mouth, passed through his brain and exited the back of his skull.

That much, his family knows with heart-rending certainty, is tragically true.

What they refuse to believe is the official account of that killing, a story of mutual, reckless gunplay detailed in the files of the U.S. District Court in Gulfport, Miss. 

That is where Kyle Palmer, a young man who went to war with Pope and claimed to love him like a brother, pleaded guilty to one count of involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to three years in federal prison.

In another era, it would have been Marines providing security at that embassy instead of mercenaries. And Palmer would have faced a court-martial, not a federal judge. But the American military has undergone a monumental change in the past two decades, shifting more and more responsibility to private companies such as the one Pope and Palmer worked for, Virginia-based DynCorp International.

The business of war has never been bigger.

But, as Justin Pope's family has learned, the massive outsourcing of duties formerly performed by the nation's armed forces has come at a price, both in terms of the tens of billions of dollars the United States annually pays to companies that supply personnel in hot spots around the world, and in a lack of accountability when negligence leads to the kind of tragedy that cost Justin Pope his life.

Detroit attorney William Goodman, who along with law partner Julie Hurwitz is representing Pope's family in a recently filed lawsuit, offers a big-picture look at what he sees at stake: a system designed to protect private military contractors such as DynCorp, even if they are guilty of "gross negligence and deliberate indifference to the rights of their employees, peoples of foreign lands and American public officials."

"Moreover," he contends, "this system shields private military contractors from any accountability even when an employee is killed while off duty as the direct result of the contractor's own wrongdoing, or is killed by another employee of the contractor. This is simply outrageous. Even more disturbing, it extends the immunity that was once reserved to the government, to private corporations, even further reinforcing the notion that we are ruled not by a democratic government but, rather, by avaricious private interests."

Sickened by the official account of Pope's death — a story that paints him as an irresponsible participant in his own demise — his family went to court once already in an attempt to force the discovery of information they hope will shed new light on what happened that night in Iraq a little more than three years ago. The current civil suit seeks unspecified damages, but the family says they are more interested in truth than money.

That first suit, filed in federal court in Port Huron, was dismissed last September. Judge Lawrence P. Zatkoff ruled, in part, that any right to sue for negligence had been waived when Pope signed his contract with DynCorp. Zatkoff also determined that the company was shielded by something known as the Defense Base Act, a 1941 law that creates a "federal compensation scheme for defense contractors and employees when such employee suffers injury or death while working outside of the United States."

Now Pope's survivors — a group that includes his wife, 11-year-old son, mother, stepfather, brothers and sisters — have launched a second lawsuit, in the U.S. District Court in Detroit.

This time, instead of claiming negligence, it is being alleged that the company and more than a dozen of its employees at the time conspired to cover up what actually occurred the night Pope was killed.

As a result of that claimed conspiracy, and the allegedly fabricated accounts of Pope's death in the public record, the family continues to agonize over the tarnished reputation of a man they consider to be a hero.

Not knowing what really happened, they say, torments them all.

"The only thing we know for sure is that Justin isn't here," says Riverview resident Bill Salser, a former police officer who married Justin's mom, Patricia, when the boy was 7 years old. 

The company isn't answering questions about the case. When contacted by Metro Times, a DynCorp International spokeswoman responded with this e-mail:

"Given that this matter is currently in litigation, we cannot discuss the claims at this time. This was an extremely tragic accident that occurred several years ago, after working hours, when personnel were allegedly drinking alcohol in violation of Company policy. Although our thoughts and prayers go out to Mr. Pope's family and loved ones, the allegations contained within the suit are without merit. Please be advised that the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan fully dismissed a related lawsuit last year."

Although not named in the suit, the U.S. State Department, which investigated the killing, is part of the cover-up, says the family and its attorneys. 

Asked to respond, a spokeswoman for the State Department sent Metro Times an e-mail expressing its "deepest sympathies" for Pope's families, but directed us to seek the answers to our questions in the court files.

Included in those files are both the official account of the homicide, as well as testimony and numerous letters from both family and friends of the victim and killer.

What follows is an account of what happened based on interviews with Pope's family and the court documents themselves.



The family first learned that something bad had happened to Justin when his wife, Ashley, received a call from a DynCorp employee around 5:30 p.m. Detroit time on March 4, 2009.

Now 29, she and Justin met while attending church in the downriver community of Riverview when they were both 15. They married in 2003, just after Justin graduated from Marine boot camp.

After leaving the Marines in 2006 and going to work for DynCorp, Justin's salary jumped more than sevenfold, from around $25,000 a year to about $180,000, and they were able to buy a spacious home on a large, wooded lot in an upscale Commerce Township subdivision.

That's where she was when that first call came in, informing her that Justin had been in an "accident" — and that it was serious. A second call informed them that he'd been shot in the "neck," and that he'd been airlifted by helicopter to a hospital. A third call brought the news that Justin had died.

Those three calls came within a span of several hours.

Around 2:30 a.m. the next day, two women arrived at Ashley's home where family members had gathered. They were Anne Boffo and her daughter Natalie, who had driven up from their home in Ohio.

Natalie was Kyle Palmer's fiancée, and the couple had socialized with Ashley and Justin when they all lived in Jacksonville, N.C., where the guys were stationed at Camp Lejeune.

Anne Boffo's husband and Natalie's father, Michael Boffo, is a former Marine who, at the time, was project manager for DynCorp International's protective services unit in Iraq. According to court records, he supervised a group of 151 people. Included in that number were Kyle Palmer and Justin Pope.

According to Ashley, it was through their connection to Michael Boffo that Kyle and Justin went to work for DynCorp. Ashley tells Metro Times that Kyle had two previous drunk driving arrests that had to be expunged from his record before the company would hire him. Mention of those arrests is also in the court file, contained in a letter written by Justin's sister, Kristin. When the Boffos arrived, Ashley didn't yet know it was Palmer who had shot and killed her husband. In fact, other than learning that he'd been shot, she had no information about how he died. Traumatized by the news her husband had just died, she suffered an emotional breakdown, going to her bedroom and staying there for days. 

Asked in an interview with Metro Times if she thought it odd that Anne and Natalie would rush to be with her upon learning of Justin's death, Ashley says that, at the time, she was too distraught to give their presence any thought at all. 

"I was in shock that whole time, she says. "Everything from then is just a blur."

Besides, she says, "everyone loved Justin." They were there, she thought, only to give support and comfort.

The next to arrive was DynCorp employee Mike Kehoe (also spelled Keho in some court records.), who'd flown to Michigan from Iraq. Ashley says Kehoe initially told her that Justin was alone in his room when he died.

"He asked me if Justin had been depressed about anything," Ashley recalls.

The implication, she says, was that Justin might have committed suicide.

No one in his family believed that to be remotely possible. 

Then the story changed, says the family. Justin was cleaning his weapon, they were told, and it accidentally misfired. Family members say they immediately dismissed that possibility as well. Justin, they say, had an intense concern regarding firearm safety.

"You have to understand the kind of person Justin was," says his stepfather, Bill Salser. 



In a letter to the federal judge presiding over the Palmer case, Salser, in part, wrote in December 2009:

"To start out this letter I feel I need to start 18 years ago when I met Justin's mom. Justin was just seven years old. From the day that I met Justin at that age already [he] had his mind made up that he was going to be a police officer or a Marine. He already knew that he was going to put a change in people's lives no matter what. The special bond that I am referring to is that I was a police officer and that is one of the things he wanted to be. Justin and I would talk about all the cases that I had been on and all of the excitement of being an officer. Justin one day came up to me and asked me to be his partner. That hit me like a ton of bricks. Could you imagine, a seven-year-old boy asking you to be his partner and not being his biological dad. I told him YES I sure would. I then gave him one of my police wallets with my badge and ID.

"... At 8 years old he would ride his bike around and police kids and tell them when they were doing wrong and would help kids when they needed help. ... So you see not only did Justin make an impact on adults and children in other countries as an adult, but he also did it as a child himself. ... As Justin grew I knew he was going to make a difference in life ..."

Other letters describing Justin strike many of the same notes.

"Justin Pope was not only my cousin, but he was also my hero," wrote Sabrina Lividini. "We grew up together, and throughout our childhood, Justin always had a passion and desire to serve our county. ... Justin was truly the best of all of us, and we all looked up to him for striving to achieve (and achieving) things that we could never even think of doing."

"From as far back as I can remember," wrote another cousin, "he dreamed of being a Marine, serving his country. He was always trying to help people, make everyone's life better, even if it meant making his a little worse. Our family is not as strong without the positive, beautiful presence of my cousin Justin. He was an amazing person. The best I have ever known."



So the family was certain Justin hadn't killed himself, or that he'd been cleaning a loaded weapon that accidentally discharged.

They were right.

As federal prosecutor David Jaffe told the judge presiding over Palmer's case:

"From my understanding in speaking with the family ... members of DynCorp either telephoned or came in person to the family of Justin Pope to give their condolences, and they made statements about what happened. And some of the anguish that you hear, Your Honor, was that as it turns out, as a result of what we learned from the investigation, all of those statements were not true." 

Things took an abrupt turn when Palmer showed up in Michigan for his friend's viewing. They weren't sure he'd be able to make it; Mrs. Boffo had informed them that Palmer had gone into convulsions after Justin was shot and had to be hospitalized, recalls Patricia Salser.

Kevin Pope, Justin's oldest brother, made handwritten notes as events unfolded. Among other things, he remarked about how Keho had shown up with paperwork for Ashley to sign. There were two insurance policies — one for $250,000 and other for $50,000 — that had to be processed.

"Mike [Kehoe] also said it would be probably two or three more days before we would have word on how he died."

That claim was made even though court records would reveal that State Department investigators, who were in the area working on another case, were on the scene within an hour. 

The family claims that they learned from the State Department that the employees, before talking with investigators, gathered together privately to coordinate their stories. 

One of the men present at the time of Justin's death, who is named in the lawsuit and spoke with Metro Times on condition that his name not be revealed, denies that the men gathered to coordinate their stories.

In any event, Palmer showed up in Michigan four days after the shooting to attend services for his friend. It was then that he confessed to Ashley that he was somehow involved, but that he had been too drunk at the time of the shooting to have a clear recollection of it. He did remember seeing someone else's hand on the gun.

According to Kevin Pope's contemporaneous notes, "Sunday the 8th Palmer was here in the Courtyard Marriott where I met him in the afternoon. I talked with Palmer alone in the hotel room. ... He said both of their hands were on the gun. He said he was convulsing after that. He said he thinks Justin only had one Corona. I think he made it sound like he had a lot more to drink. He did say there was another guy in the room."

Three days later Kevin wrote: "Palmer and Natalie came to Ashley's on Wednesday night the 11th around midnight. I asked Palmer how long Justin's blood was pumping after he was shot. Palmer answered that he didn't remember anything until he woke up several hours later. ... I told Palmer my brother loved him and I do too. I told him I forgive him if he's living with guilt and he told me it means a lot."

However, the stories being told to the family kept changing. They say now that it is difficult to keep track of all the versions of Justin's death that were presented to them by both Palmer and DynCorp officials. The scenario evolved from Pope being alone in his room to him being there with Palmer and "possibly" one other person to there being a room full of people.



It wasn't until Palmer, fired from DynCorp because of the killing, was back in the United States, in Gulfport, Miss., that investigators were able to extract a confession from him. He was charged with involuntary manslaughter, a felony that carries a maximum prison sentence of eight years. Under the original plea agreement, prosecutors agreed to request that Palmer serve no prison time whatsoever. Five years of supervised probation would be his penalty.

Pope's family reacted with shock. "It felt like a kick to the gut," Bill Salser says. The family objected to the sentence, saying it was too lenient. The judge eventually agreed and sentenced Palmer to three years. Before sentencing, Jaffe, the prosecutor, read into the record what he says the government would be able to prove if the case were to go to trial.

It is a soliloquy that nauseates the family.

What follows is an edited version of what was presented to the court:

The defendant and Pope were close friends who had served together in the U.S. Marine Corps during the battle of Fallujah back in Iraq in 2005. Both had been trained as snipers and were well versed in firearms, including their function and procedures for safely handling weapons.

The evidence would also show that in the late evening hours of March 4th and continuing into the early hours of March 5th of 2009, an informal party or get-together was taking place at Justin Pope's embassy-provided residence inside the State Department embassy compound in Erbil. Pope, the defendant, and others had been escorting the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq during the day.

There were approximately eight to ten contractors in this small bedroom. Most had consumed alcohol. Indeed, the defendant had drank two bottles of wine, several beers, and some whiskey by himself before and during the party. The defendant himself believed that he was so drunk that he would not have been able to legally operate a motor vehicle. Pope was not drunk that night, and some people present believed he may have had one beer, but a toxicology report reflected there was no alcohol present in Pope's system at the time of his death.

During the party, Justin Pope and the defendant had engaged in some playful and friendly wrestling on Pope's bed. After that wrestling had concluded, the evidence would show that the defendant [Palmer] went to a bed at the opposite end of the room and stood there while Pope went to his desk. From his desk, Pope retrieved his 9-millimeter Glock 19 handgun. The evidence would show that Pope then went over to the bed where the defendant was standing. Pope pulled back the slide of his Glock handgun at least once, expelling an unfired round of ammunition. The defendant never saw Pope removing the magazine from the weapon, and the action, in the absence of seeing the magazine removed, made it clear that the gun was in fact loaded.

Pope then began to dance on the bed with the defendant while Pope was waiving the gun around. Justin Pope, in a joking manner, pointed the gun at the defendant's head. So the evidence that the government would have collected would show that this was consistent with a game that is sometimes played with a semiautomatic handgun among Marines, a game sometimes referred to as a "Trust Me" game, where a loaded handgun is pointed at a friend and the friend is expected to trust the possessor of the weapon not to shoot him.

After that pointing of the weapon at the defendant, the defendant and Pope began wrestling, although not wrestling for possession of the gun, but friendly wrestling. After that wrestling concluded, the defendant at some point took the firearm from Pope. Then, as Pope had done, the defendant at some point took the firearm from Pope. Then, as Pope had done, the defendant pointed the gun at Justin Pope's head. Witnesses are prepared to testify that Pope then said, in substance and in part, either 'Do it' or 'Pull the trigger' or something in that manner.

The defendant, still extremely intoxicated, pulled the trigger of the gun without checking to see whether the gun was loaded. The gun discharged a bullet, and the bullet struck Justin Pope in the head. Justin Pope collapsed on the bed. Although others in the room immediately provided medical assistance and attention and Justin Pope remained alive for a short period of time, he died soon after without regaining consciousness.

Pope's family members say the official version of Justin's death is as far-fetched as the stories that he'd possibly killed himself, or that his gun had accidentally misfired while being cleaned. 

Which is why, after their first lawsuit had been dismissed (which they are appealing, acting as their own lawyers), they found new attorneys and are trying to get back in court again. Because this, in essence, is what they are being asked to accept: that a stone-cold sober Justin Pope — a guy who had never been anything less than intense about handling firearms safely — danced around waving a loaded pistol, and then "playfully" wrestled with another man while holding the weapon. And then, the most incredible part: that he would take that gun, knowing it was loaded, and hand the weapon to a guy wasted on alcohol and, with that gun maybe three feet from his face say, "Go ahead, pull the trigger."

"There is no way any of us would ever believe Justin would do anything like that," says his mother, Patricia Salser. "Anyone who knows him wouldn't believe it.

Aside from the family's disbelief based on Justin's character, there is an autopsy — conducted by the Armed Forces Institute of pathology in Rockville, Md. — that appears to call into doubt that official version of events. 



As part of the first lawsuit, noted forensic pathologist Dr. Werner Spitz reviewed the autopsy report and a CD containing photographs of the body. In a sworn affidavit, Spitz reported that "in addition to the injuries directly associated with the gunshot wound, Justin suffered bruising in the upper eyelid, bridge of his nose, inside of his upper lip, outside of his left arm and the back side of his right hand as well as two fractured teeth."

That raises the possibility that the "playful wrestling" described by the prosecution may really have been a fight. 

Also of concern to the family is a conversation they say took place with State Department investigator Scott Banker and prosecutor David Jaffe at the U.S. federal building in Detroit just before the official version of events was presented to the court in Mississippi.

According to Patricia Salser, the family was told in that meeting that the truth of what happened might never be known because the DynCorp employees present when the shooting occurred either weren't talking or were providing conflicting stories.

If the government wasn't sure what the truth really was, why didn't they press on with the investigation? The family says they have never been given an answer to that question.



Greg Gulizzi, 34, served in the Marines with Pope and Palmer. In a phone interview with Metro Times, he says he's familiar with the "trust me" game, and that he doesn't believe Pope would ever willingly engage in it. He says "fanatic" is not too strong a word to use when describing his friend's attitude toward gun safety.

He says that as both a Marine and a person, Pope was looked up to by the people he fought alongside. He too says the story that Pope "wrestled with a drunk guy with a loaded gun" is ludicrous. 

However, the fact that Palmer was involved in dangerous gunplay came as no surprise.

Gulizzi also recalls having a conversation with Pope when they were deployed in Iraq. Pope told him that he knew of some snipers who had played the "trust me" game, and that he was astonished anyone would be so reckless. "What if something happened?" Gulizzi recalls Pope saying. Then, he added, "You know, Palmer was doing it too."

Then he tries to put things into some perspective:

"You have to remember, we didn't sign up to join the Marines when things were pleasant. In some ways we lived like there was no tomorrow because it really could be that there would be no tomorrow. When we were in Iraq, guys got sniped. We lost a lot of friends. For seven months, we walked around a place where you never knew when you might get sniped at."

Nothing in his experience with Pope, however, would lead him to believe the official version of his friend's death.

"That just doesn't make any sense, man."

Unlike Gulizzi — and some of the military experts we talked with — the former DynCorp employee who was present at Justin's death, says he never heard of the "trust me" game. He says that despite the fact that concerns about the "game" were reported in publications such as the Marine Corps Times. This same person also still insists that Pope had drank beer the night he died — despite autopsy findings that there was zero alcohol in his system.

"People are trying to make sense of all this, but none of it makes any sense," he says.

The fact that it makes no sense is what has the family searching for a more plausible explanation.

One possibility, says Patricia Salser, is that her son had a problem with something that had occurred among members of the security detail, or was concerned about something improper involving DynCorp.

She says that, shortly before his death, Justin told her he was considering asking for a transfer to a new assignment in Pakistan, even though that job would pay less than the one in Iraq. She says too that he seemed troubled by something on his last visit home a few weeks before he died.

One thing that's certain, say friends and family, is that Justin was a "stand-up" guy, the kind of man who refused to turn a blind eye to problems.

A former Marine who served with Pope recalls two incidents that occurred when both men were in uniform. 

In one case, in the Iraqi city of Fallujah — the site of intense fighting at one point during the war — a patrol being led by Pope found a young disabled boy being mistreated by his father. That boy, says Alex Corti, was chained to a wall and forced to wallow in his own feces. 

"Pope went upstairs, found the father, and through a translator told the guy he'd kill him if he continued treating the boy that way," recalls Corti, who lives in Ohio. "He wasn't serious about that. He was just trying to scare the guy. And it worked.

"After that, whenever we were on patrol in that same area, Justin would have us go by that house and make sure everything was OK with that kid."

Another story told by Corti also has its roots in Fallujah, where one member of Pope's unit accidentally shot a child. "It was what they call collateral damage," Corti says.

When they were back stateside, Pope heard the guy bragging about how he'd made a kill in Iraq. Incensed, Pope laid into the guy, hitting him several times.

"It took about four guys to pull Justin off of him," recalls Corti.

As for Pope's bravery and ability to keep a cool head in dangerous situations, there's no question. Among the chestful of ribbons and medals adorning his Marine uniform is an "achievement metal" earned when a sniper wounded one of the members of a patrol he led. According to the citation he received, he put himself in harm's way, providing triage to the wounded man while directing others to return fire.

Corti also says that it was always Pope who helped keep people in line, keeping them focused on the fact that they were there to help the people of Iraq, and not to lose sight of that.



Just as the family and friends wrote letters extolling the virtues of Justin Pope and asking the judge to not let the man who killed him off with just probation, friends wrote letters describing Kyle Palmer's many fine qualities.

Among them were letters from all three of the Boffos. Michael said that he thought of Kyle as a "son" and continued to do so even after his daughter broke off their engagement. 

"Although the tragic events in Iraq in March 2009 shattered the lives of these two young people, and has sent them on separate paths, I still recall the goodness, and commitment that Kyle consistently showed for that time when he was part of our family."

Michael Boffo, no longer with DynCorp, is one of the employees named in the lawsuit. Metro Times was unable to reach him for comment. Also writing letters were two of the men present in the room when Palmer killed Pope. Those men also are defendants in the just-filed suit.

Others described Kyle as a "Christian with very high morals for life." 

"Kyle is my hero," wrote his new fiancee, a registered nurse. "He did what others didn't want to do; he fought for our country. He is the reason why we are here today doing what we want to do or enjoy doing. For our freedom, we have Kyle to thank. He is a veteran."

"Kyle amazes me on a daily basis," she adds. "After everything he has been through, he is still stable, headstrong, dedicated, determined and motivated."

There is, however, another side to Palmer that isn't revealed in these letters. It is a side of him captured on a video camera while he was still working for DynCorp in Iraq. Kevin Pope found it on his brother's laptop computer when it was returned to the family after Justin's death. 

(The members of the Pope family, it seems, have taken on different responsibilities as they continue what they consider to be a fight to clear Justin's name of the terrible tarnish the official version of his death has created. Kevin has been scouring the Internet for information. One of the things he's found is a video posted on YouTube showing yet another party taking place among DynCorp employees at their Ebril quarters. Kyle is in that video — which features some raucous beer-bonging — even though alcohol consumption was, officially anyway, strictly prohibited.)

The video found on Justin's computer was provided to the judge in Mississippi. It too is part of the court record. At the start of the five-minute recording, Palmer is clearly pictured. The cameraman sounds to be drunk, hiccupping frequently before putting the camera down before leaving the room because he has to "go pee."

The camera continues to roll, but the screen goes dark. What gets captured, however, is the audio, resulting in a sort of theater of the absurd.

Palmer is clearly wasted, and one of his co-workers is trying to assist him.

There are two voices, one of which Pope's family says is clearly Palmer's. It's not known who is trying to help him as he lays in bed, a trash can placed alongside in case he has to vomit. 

"Stop touching me now," Palmer says.

"Why are you so fucked up?"

"I'll kill you now," Palmer says.

"Whoa, whoa."

"I'm going to fuckin' fuck you up now." 

It goes on in that vein for a few minutes, with Palmer telling the man who's trying to help him that he "smells like a nigger." The man starts jabbing him.

"Goddam it, quit hitting me in the ribs," Palmer yells.

"It'll be a lot worse if you keep that up," is the reply.

After a few more minutes someone else enters the room and you hear Palmer say, "Ah, shit, the boss man. We're fucked now."

"Just hit the can," says the new voice, apparently that of a supervisor.

"Leave me alone," Palmer says.

"It's happened to me more than once," the supervisor says, laughing.

And then, apparently referring to the assignment completed earlier, "Good fucking job tonight guys. Good fucking job."

He then notices the camera.

"Don't leave that on," he says.

"Oh, shit," says the other man.

And then it ends.



Also in the court file is a pair of letters of particular pertinence. 

One is from someone writing on behalf of Palmer. His name is Cono Caranna, and he is a district attorney in Gulfport.

He talks about the differences between "today's war machine" and the military force deployed in 1967, when he served a year in Vietnam:


We were a group composed of draftees and volunteers. Most missions were accomplished by military units while today many are contracted out to civilian corporate entities.

I recall that many policies, procedures, special orders and standing orders tasked company commanders with close supervision of combat troops when our mission allowed us to stand down and have a brief time away from our duties. If the event involved alcohol, or access to it, all weapons were secured before the troops were allowed to participate. Apparently, the contractor responsible for the group [in] which this tragedy occurred did not have either the standards or supervision to prevent the terrible consequences.

In light of the failure of the contractor to take into account all the standards the military has employed for so many years, I can understand the sentencing recommendation made and supported by the investigator, the United States Department of Justice as well as the United States Attorney for the District.

The military authorities, as well as the Department of Veteran Affairs, has recognized the strain and impact specialized military training and combat experience have on groups such as Marine Corps Scout Snipers. Certainly such men who have returned to combat zones as civilian contractors are equally affected by such pressures. ... Please consider this old veteran's concern that the failure of a unit or group will fall disproportionately on Kyle Palmer.


The other letter is from Justin's paternal grandfather, William B. Pope. Like Caranna, he posits that Palmer is not the only one responsible:


Avoiding a trial has been the sole objective of DynCorp and they have changed their explanation of this tragedy several times. They continue to resist any testimony that might reveal the truth.


Curt Guyette is Metro Times news editor. Contact him at 313-202-8004 or [email protected].


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