A military jury at Fort Meade has found an Army doctor who disobeyed orders to deploy to Afghanistan because he questions President Barack Obama's eligibility for office guilty of missing a flight that would have gotten him to his eventual deployment.
The jury returned the verdict Wednesday afternoon against Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin of Greeley, Colo., on the charge of "missing movement" by design. It carries a possible two-year sentence.
In videos posted on YouTube, Lakin aligned himself with the so-called "birther" movement, which questions whether Obama is a natural-born citizen as the U.S. Constitution requires for presidents. Lakin said he would "gladly deploy" if Obama's original birth certificate were released and proved authentic.
During closing arguments Wednesday, a military prosecutor, Capt. Angel Overgaard, told the jury that Lakin had been properly charged and should be found guilty.
"We are here because the accused did not act like a soldier," Overgaard told the jury.
But Lakin's civilian defense attorney, Neal Puckett, told a jury that the government was "piling on" when it charged him with "missing movement through design" for not boarding a flight meant to get him to Fort Campbell in Kentucky. Puckett urged the jury to find him instead guilty of "failure to go," which carries a potential one month sentence. The difference between the two charges has to do with whether Lakin missed the flight by "design."
"He's not blameless here," Puckett said.
Lakin had already pleaded guilty to one of two charges against him during the first day of the court martial. The charge included disobeying an order to meet with a superior and disobeying an order to report to Fort Campbell in Kentucky. Lakin faces up to 18 months in prison and dismissal from the Army on that charge.
Gregory Lakin, Terrence Lakin's brother, said the decision to disobey orders was difficult for his brother, a 17-year veteran.
"This was a decision he toiled with," said Gregory Lakin, who was in court with Lakin's parents and another brother.
"He would still go," said Gregory Lakin, who has written Obama on behalf of his brother. "To this day he's still packed up. He would go."
Lakin had already pleaded guilty to another charge against him. All told, he now faces a possible 42 months in prison. A military jury will sentence him after a sentencing phase.