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Attorney expects a trial for man suspected in insider attack

By Deborah Wilber - | Aug 24, 2022

Deborah Wilber, Standard-Examiner

Phil Cave, defense lawyer for Tech. Sgt. David D. Dezwaan, is pictured after a hearing on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022.

HILL AIR FORCE BASE — U.S. Air Force Col. Brian Thompson ended the hearing for explosives expert Tech. Sgt. David D. Dezwaan Jr. on Tuesday stating a determination in the case would be made no later than next week.

Dezwaan is charged with multiple crimes in a suspected insider attack earlier this year when four U.S. troops were wounded after an incident in Syria.

Dezwaan waived a reading of his charges, which include aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and wrongfully obtaining classified information.

The U.S. government called a single witness, special agent Tim Weinhold with the Office of Special Investigations, who was assigned to investigate the April incident at the internationally shared Green Village base in eastern Syria.

Government counsel, Capt. Taylor Brown and Maj. Megan Ortner, claim Dezwaan is responsible for two explosions, one at Shower Lavatory Unit and one at the Basic Load Ammunition Holding Area.

While Weinhold admits video footage obtained from the facilities is “poor quality” with some initial discrepancies in time stamps, a figure is shown walking from the SLU to the BLAHA before the explosions during the time period Dezwaan is allegedly unaccounted for.

Investigators claim that Dezwaan was not seen in his room between the hours of 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. on the day in question. The first explosion in the BLAHA occurred at 1:07 a.m., the second in the SLU occurred at 1:10 a.m.

“He is the only one missing,” Brown said.

In offering probable cause, prosecutors claim the 14-year veteran of the Air Force Explosives Ordinance Disposal had the time, experience and access to the materials suspected to have been used.

Tests conducted in the post-blast analysis of the areas revealed the presence of approximately 3.75 pounds of C4, a common variety of plastic explosive. Weinhold, however, said OSI cannot definitively rule out what explosive was used.

With no usable DNA or fingerprints, Nathan Freeburg, one of Dezwaan’s attorneys, said there is no evidence to show his client is responsible, let alone there having been commission of an offense.

Defense council claims Dezwaan’s charges are based “mostly” on circumstantial evidence. Neither Dezwaan nor his attorneys have offered an explanation for photos of classified documents found on his phone.

Prosecutors argues that Dezwaan knew the potential consequences of having classified documents on his phone due to his having taken the Secret Internet Protocol Network training.

“The moment he took out his cellphone and took pictures, his use became unauthorized — even if he had authorization to view classified EOD documents and maps,” Brown said.

Prosecutors do not have a clear motive for the attacks.

Dezwaan reportedly spent four days in a hospital for injuries he sustained during the second explosion in the SLU. Weinhold testified that the doctor tending to Dezwaan in Syria determined the injuries on Dezwaan’s left side were inconsistent with shrapnel and appeared to be self-inflicted wounds from a knife.

Following the explosions, Weinhold said a knife was found “open and locked” in the SLU near where Dezwaan had reportedly been found.

Prosecutors wanted to know why Dezwaan had remained in the SLU after the first explosion when two others in trailers next to the SLU had made it to the Joint Operations Center before the second explosion, approximately three minutes later.

“His own story does not make sense,” Brown said in requesting Thompson make an approval for a General Court-Martial. “He’s the only person with all the factors needed to carry out the attacks and be successful.”

Dezwaan’s defense, argued that an inability to recall whereabouts and certain details is not evidence of guilt, but rather a concussion.

According to Freeburg, his client is being accused by process of elimination. Cave told reporters he suspects the case will move forward to trial.

Dezwaan remains in pretrial confinement at the Weber County Jail, where he has been since June 16.


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