Lights & Sirens

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Charges dismissed against JBLM officer accused of making threats

Post by Adam Lynn / The News Tribune on June 8, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
June 8, 2012 3:42 pm

A Pierce County judge today signed an order dismissing the felony charges against a Joint Base Lewis-McChord lieutenant colonel who’d been accused of hiring a hit man to kill his estranged wife and commanding officer.

Robert Underwood had maintained his innocence since his arrest in March, arguing he was the victim of a woman who made up stories about him when he rejected her romantic advances.

Prosecutors filed paperwork this afternoon saying they’d lost faith in the credibility of that woman, Serena Kiptoo, who was the main witness against Underwood.

Deputy prosecutor Neil Horibe asked Superior Court Judge Beverly Grant to sign an order dismissing the three felony harassment charges against Underwood this afternoon. Grant agreed but left open the door that prosecutors could re-file the charges if they gather more evidence.

Underwood’s attorney, Philip Thornton of Tacoma, said his client has “been through the wringer” since his arrest.

Underwood was jailed for several days before making bail and being released. Even then he was confined to post and escorted by two soldiers when he went to court or to visit his attorney.

Thornton said he hopes to convince the Army to lift the restrictions against his client now that the charges have been dismissed.

“He has no pending proceedings against him in the military,” Thornton said.

Prosecutors charged Underwood after Kiptoo told his wife the officer was making threats to have her and his commanding officer killed. Kiptoo also told investigators he’d threatened to kill her and that the two of them had been involved in a three-month relationship, court records state.

Thornton said his client was never romantically involved with Kiptoo, despite her desires, and that she got him into trouble to punish him for rejecting her.

Cellphone records back Underwood’s contentions, Thornton added.

 

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