Reservist found guilty of leaving unit
By DOUG SIMPSON, Associated Press Writer, 7 September 2003
NEW ORLEANS - A Marine reservist convicted of leaving his unit for 47 days without permission before the war in Iraq (news - web sites) will formally request that his six-month prison sentence be reduced, his lawyer said Sunday.
A jury of four Marines on Saturday found Lance Cpl. Stephen Funk, 21, guilty of unauthorized absence but innocent of a more serious charge, desertion with intent to shirk important duty.
The jury recommended that Funk, who argued he was a conscientious objector, be demoted to private, the Marines' lowest rank, and that his pay be docked by two-thirds during his incarceration. It also recommended a bad conduct discharge, which means Funk would lose his military benefits, a punishment his attorney Steve Collier said is too severe.
Collier said he will request that Funk receive a normal discharge and a prison term of 47 days instead. Lt. Gen. Dennis M. McCarthy, commander of the Marine reserves, has authority to accept or reduce the sentence.
"It would not be unheard of for that to be the punishment," Collier said Sunday.
Funk was held in the New Orleans jail Sunday and would likely be transported to an undetermined military prison on Monday, Collier said. He would receive his discharge after his release from prison.
Marine prosecutors accused Funk, 21, of being absent while his San Jose, Calif.-based unit was mobilized Feb. 13 to load ships and cargo planes in San Diego bound for the Middle East.
Funk said he became a conscientious objector after several months of being trained to kill. Funk, who attended anti-war rallies while absent and later announced he was gay, has said that the Marines were trying to make an example of him.
There were 27 other Marines who declared themselves conscientious objectors to the Iraq war. Like Funk, all were transferred to New Orleans for processing but none of the others was prosecuted because they reported for duty on time, the Marines said.
Of the 27, 16 were granted conscientious objector status, said Capt. Jeffrey Pool, a Marine spokesman. Five were denied and the other cases are pending.
refusing to kill