Crimelines True Crime Podcast w/ Death’s Door Podcast Featured the Last Military Execution of Army Private John Bennett in 1961 (April 22, 2018)

“In 1961, the US military carried out the last execution after a court-martial, as of the time of this recording. Army Pvt John Bennett’s conviction was for the rape and attempted murder of an 11 year girl in Austria. This case brought up questions of race in our military justice system and if mental health should factor into sentencing.” –Army Private John Bennett w/ Death’s Door, Crimelines True Crime Podcast (April 22, 2018)

Related Links:
Civil Rights Act of 1964
No Military Executions Since 1961
Crimelines True Crime Podcast (website)
Crimelines True Crime Podcast (Facebook)
Crimelines True Crime Podcast (Twitter)
Army Private John Bennett w/ Death’s Door | Crimelines Podcast | Stitcher
Army Private John Bennett w/ Death’s Door | Crimelines Podcast | Podtail
Army Private John Bennett w/ Death’s Door | Crimelines Podcast | Radio Public
Army Private John Bennett w/ Death’s Door | Crimelines Podcast | Apple Podcasts
Four U.S. Service Members on Military Death Row at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; Army Private John Bennett was Last Military Execution by Hanging in 1961
Six Intriguing True Crime Podcasts Spotlighting Active Duty Military Suicide, Missing, and Murder Cases
Pvt. John Bennett Is the Only U.S. Soldier Executed for Rape in Peacetime.
A look at the last U.S. soldier executed by the military
U.S. Military Could Execute Ex-Soldier for First Time Since 1961
Haunted by the Story of John Bennett and Other Black Soldiers’ Lives on Death Row
Soldiers Sentenced to Die, but No Executions on Military Death Row Since 1961
These are the 4 inmates on the military’s death row
Death’s Door Podcast (website)
Death’s Door Podcast (Facebook)
Death’s Door Podcast (Twitter)

New Mexico Army National Guardsman Sgt. Benjamin Griego Found Dead; Death Ruled Suicide by Army CID, Parents Dispute the Findings & Allege Murder (July 13, 2007)

bengriego

Sgt. Benjamin Griego, New Mexico Army National Guard

From the parents of Army Sgt. Benjamin Griego:

Benjamin Griego, 26, was found dead in Army housing at White Sands Missile Range on July 13, 2007. He was serving our country as Cadre, on his second term enlistment, representing the New Mexico Army National Guard. His duty involved training military branches of service for transition to a Warrior Transition course previously transferred to Dona Ana Range from Ft. Knox, Kentucky. Our 26 year old son, Sgt. Benjamin Thomas Griego, was found dead in Army housing at White Sands Missile Range on July 13, 2007. He was serving our country as Cadre, on his second term enlistment, representing the New Mexico Army National Guard. His duty involved training military branches of service for transition to a Warrior Transition course previously transferred to Dona Ana Range from Ft. Knox, Kentucky.

When we first heard of our sons death, there was no official report released from the Army National Guard to his wife or to us, his parents. The information we received early that morning on July 13th, was that our son had died. The information was received from the public through their phone calls and visits of sympathy and condolences.

As we tried to make sense of this, we brushed it off as gossip since the rumor had come from a Wal-Mart employee. Later, we learned that it had been channeled down from a sergeant on post at White Sands Missile Range to a family member employed at the local Wal-Mart in Clovis, NM. That in itself was devastating and shocking to find this out in this manner. We were on the phone early that morning frantically trying to make contact with someone from the White Sands Missile Range and the Army National Guard in Santa Fe, NM who would put these rumors to rest. But to my disbelief, we were notified hours later that the worst had turned out to be true, our beloved son was gone.

Jeronimo, Bens father, was the last person to speak to Ben just hours before his death. He had made his father promise that he would call him while he was on the range the next day. We had made plans with Ben to pick up his father at the airport in El Paso, TX Monday, July 16th after duty. His itemized phone statement showed two phone calls were made to housing on base that evening. We believe that he was trying to make accommodations for his fathers visit.

Ben was 26 years old, and the youngest of my three sons. He kept close contact with us. We spoke to him every day, we knew our son, and nothing was out of the ordinary the day prior. Everything was going well for him, except for altercations he had been having with three unit members who had recently returned from Iraq. A DVD was given to us by his commander on the night of the Rosary, July 19th , which clearly demonstrates that problems existed.

My son presented a formal class on Integrity, ordered by the commander. The commander, first sergeant, and unit members were present. The class was recorded on a DVD. Some of the unit members admitted to “bum rushing” Ben before he presented the class. On the same DVD, a death threat was made. This was three weeks prior to his death. The unit members admitted to bum rushing him and the commanding officer, the highest commanding officer present, asked if it was round two”. She was well aware what was going on.

He told his mother he had been attacked by members in his unit three times in the weeks before his death, and he had a black eye the day before he died, the paper reported. He was frustrated, tired of the assaults and was resisting the urge to fight back, his father Jeronimo Griego told the News Journal. “We want them to clear his name. He did not commit suicide, we know that. We want to clear his name. Not only is that important to his name and to us, it’s important to his daughter,” Judy Griego told the News Journal. “We don’t want her growing up thinking that he did this to himself.”  –ABQ Journal (December 24, 2007)

In the News:

Our 26 year old son, Sgt. Benjamin Thomas Griego, was found dead in Army housing at White Sands Missile Range on July 13, 2007. He was serving our country as Cadre, on his second term enlistment, representing the New Mexico Army National Guard. –YouTube

Related Links:
Family doubts soldier’s suicide
Soldier’s family seeks answers
Family of Clovis Soldier Wants Answers
Family questions Army probe in soldier’s death
Clovis family questions probe into soldier’s death
Army officials investigate death of Guard member
The Murder of Sgt. Benjamin Thomas Griego (Pt. 1/5)
The Murder of Sgt. Benjamin Thomas Griego (Pt. 2/5)
The Murder of Sgt. Benjamin Thomas Griego (Pt. 3/5)
The Murder of Sgt. Benjamin Thomas Griego (Pt. 4/5)
The Murder of Sgt. Benjamin Thomas Griego (Pt. 5/5)
Murder in Baker Company: How Four American Soldiers Killed One of Their Own by Cilla McCain
Military Policy and Legislation Considerations for the Investigations of Non Combat Death, Homicide, and Suicide of US Service Members

LA Times Published ‘Pvt. John Bennett is the Only U.S. Soldier Executed for Rape in Peacetime’ by Richard A. Serrano (September 10, 2000)

Photo by Umberto Shaw on Pexels.com

Pvt. John Bennett is the Only U.S. Soldier Executed for Rape in Peacetime. He Was Mentally Troubled and Black. Six White Murderers Were Also on Military Death Row. They Were Spared.

Richard A. Serrano is a Staff Writer in The Times’ Washington, bureau. He last wrote for the magazine about the bombing of the Oklahoma, City federal building, which was also the subject of his book, “One of, Ours,” published in 1998 by W.W. Norton

“Rain always frightened him, and on the night he was hanged in a military prison in Kansas, a rolling prairie thunderstorm was kicking up outside. That was four decades ago. Pvt. John Bennett had just turned 26. He went to his death perhaps more terrified of the thunder and lightning than of the gaunt hangman waiting upon the gallows.

News of the hanging scarcely made the papers. Executions then, like today, were commonplace, so much so that his story has never been told. But he is the last member of the U.S. Armed Forces to be executed. And he is the only serviceman hanged for rape during peacetime.

America is once again examining the death penalty, spurred by the most damning evidence in history that innocents have been sentenced to die. Advances in DNA testing and other revelations have overturned scores of death sentences in recent years, raising fresh doubts about American criminal justice, especially for minorities, who make up the majority of death row prisoners.

As a result, the death penalty issue looms larger in presidential politics than it has for a generation. Both major party candidates favor death sentencing, and Republican nominee George W. Bush has given it special emphasis. He expresses confidence in his state’s handling of capital cases and says that not one innocent man has been executed on his watch as governor of Texas.

The issue also has landed in the Oval Office, where President Clinton delayed by four months the federal government’s first scheduled execution since 1963. Juan Raul Garza will now have until Dec. 12–a date notably after the presidential election–to seek clemency. Garza’s attorneys say they will argue that the criminal justice system discriminates against minorities.

Amid the chatter, national opinion polls have found that while most Americans still favor death sentencing, the support is diminishing. Even its proponents question the role that race, mental illness, poverty, politics and the quality of legal representation play in death penalty cases. All those factors were present on that stormy night in April 1961 inside the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Ft. Leavenworth. Was the system broken back then? Has it been fixed since?

Read more from Richard A. Serrano (LA Times) here or here and check out Serrano’s book ‘Summoned at Midnight: A Story of Race and the Last Military Executions at Fort Leavenworth’ here.

Related Links:
Pvt John Arthur Bennett (April 13, 1961)
Pvt. John Bennett is the Only U.S. Soldier Executed for Rape in Peacetime
Pvt. John Bennett Is the Only U.S. Soldier Executed for Rape in Peacetime
Bush OKs Execution for Army Private on Death Row
1961: John A. Bennett, the last American military execution (so far)
The Rare Case Of The Military Execution
A look at the last U.S. soldier executed by the military
Soldiers Sentenced to Die, but No Executions on Military Death Row Since 1961
A look at the 6 inmates on US military death row
Servicemen on Death Row; 6 killers await as mil­i­tary jus­tice crawls
Judge lifts execution stay for ex-soldier in military prison
U.S. Military Could Execute Ex-Soldier for First Time Since 1961
Army moves closer to first execution in 50 years; Ronald Gray on death row since 1988
These are the 4 inmates on the military’s death row
Haunted by the Story of John Bennett and Other Black Soldiers’ Lives on Death Row
Resuming federal executions unlikely to affect military death row
Summoned at Midnight: A Story of Race and the Last Military Executions at Fort Leavenworth 
Crimelines True Crime Podcast w/ Death’s Door Podcast Featured the Last Military Execution of Army Private John Bennett in 1961 (April 22, 2018)
Four U.S. Service Members on Military Death Row at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; Army Private John Bennett was Last Military Execution by Hanging in 1961
Seven Intriguing True Crime Podcasts Spotlighting Active Duty Military Suicide, Missing, and Murder Cases

Army Pvt. John Bennett Executed by Hanging at U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, Fort Leavenworth for Raping White Girl in Austria (April 13, 1961)

Photo by Shane Aldendorff on Pexels.com

“John Bennett, a black man, was hanged for raping a white girl in Austria. During the six years between his trial and death, eight other soldiers were executed, all of them black. Six white prisoners were on death row during those years. Some had killed little girls or had killed more than once. None were executed. President Dwight Eisenhower commuted the sentences of four. Two were spared by the courts. Today, six soldiers are on military death row–four black, one Asian, one white.” (update: 4 soldiers are on death row now)

Evidence in Bennett’s case revealed mental defects in the young man and his family, defects that today would probably spare his life. He also almost certainly suffered from epilepsy, which his defenders cited as further evidence of mental illness. Even Dr. Karl Menninger, the country’s preeminent psychiatrist, twice sought to save the life of this ‘undistinguished epileptic Negro soldier.The court-martial was held in Austria. The trial lasted five days, with little defense. The jury deliberated just 25 minutes.

Read more from Richard A. Serrano (LA Timeshere or here and check out Serrano’s book ‘Summoned at Midnight: A Story of Race and the Last Military Executions at Fort Leavenworth’ here.

Related Links:
Pvt John Arthur Bennett (April 13, 1961)
Pvt. John Bennett is the Only U.S. Soldier Executed for Rape in Peacetime
Pvt. John Bennett Is the Only U.S. Soldier Executed for Rape in Peacetime
Bush OKs Execution for Army Private on Death Row 
1961: John A. Bennett, the last American military execution (so far)
The Rare Case Of The Military Execution 
A look at the last U.S. soldier executed by the military 
Soldiers Sentenced to Die, but No Executions on Military Death Row Since 1961 
A look at the 6 inmates on US military death row
Servicemen on Death Row; 6 killers await as mil­i­tary jus­tice crawls
Judge lifts execution stay for ex-soldier in military prison
U.S. Military Could Execute Ex-Soldier for First Time Since 1961 
Army moves closer to first execution in 50 years; Ronald Gray on death row since 1988 
These are the 4 inmates on the military’s death row 
Haunted by the Story of John Bennett and Other Black Soldiers’ Lives on Death Row
Resuming federal executions unlikely to affect military death row
Summoned at Midnight: A Story of Race and the Last Military Executions at Fort Leavenworth 
Crimelines True Crime Podcast w/ Death’s Door Podcast Featured the Last Military Execution of Army Private John Bennett in 1961 (April 22, 2018)
Four U.S. Service Members on Military Death Row at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; Army Private John Bennett was Last Military Execution by Hanging in 1961
Seven Intriguing True Crime Podcasts Spotlighting Active Duty Military Suicide, Missing, and Murder Cases