Then-Senior Airman Andrew Witt enters the courtroom in 2005. He was convicted of killing Senior Airman Andy Schliepsiek and Schliepsiek's wife, Jamie. (File)
The Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals on Monday affirmed that Senior Airman Andrew Witt should be sentenced to die for the 2004 double murder of a fellow airman and his wife and the attempted murder of a staff sergeant at Robins Air Force Base, Ga.
“Although it is true that none of the appellant’s trial defense counsel had ever defended a capital case prior to representing the appellant at trial, their combined qualifications and demonstrated performance at trial do not reveal them to have been per se unqualified or otherwise substantively unqualified to represent the appellant,” the panel wrote in response to one of the 89 issues Witt raised in objection to his 2005 conviction and sentencing by general-court martial.
“An overall review of the record of trial, including consideration of the gruesome nature of the offenses themselves ... leaves no basis for us to conclude that trial counsel’s argument was calculated to inflame the members’ passions or possible prejudices. We find no error,” the panel also wrote.
Witt stabbed to death Senior Airman Andy Schliepsiek and his wife, Jamie, at their home on Robins in the early morning of July 5, 2004. A third victim, then-Senior Airman Jason King, was stabbed multiple times in the back but managed to escape and call for help.
The appeals court in August initially ruled 3-2 that Witt's defense overlooked key evidence that could have persuaded jurors to spare the killer's life. That ruling was set aside two months later after the Air Force requested all 10 judges hear the case.
Witt is the only airman on military death row at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.