UNITED STATES, Appellee
John T. BALDWIN, Staff Sergeant
U.S. Air Force, Appellant
Crim. App. No. 2000-02
United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
Argued January 9, 2001
Decided April 18, 2001
EFFRON, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which CRAWFORD, C.J., and SULLIVAN, GIERKE, and BAKER, JJ., joined.
For Appellant: Captain Kyle R. Jacobson (argued); Colonel James R. Wise and Lieutenant Colonel Timothy W. Murphy (on brief).
For Appellee: Major Brian T. Wheeler (argued); Colonel Anthony P. Dattilo and Major Lance B. Sigmon (on brief).
Military Judge: Harvey A. Kornstein
Judge EFFRON delivered the opinion of the Court.
Appellant was charged with one specification of committing indecent acts with a child, in violation of Article 134, Uniform Code of Military Justice, 10 USC § 934. At a general court-martial, the military judge granted appellant’s motion to suppress his written confession to investigators, holding that the statement was not sufficiently corroborated under Military Rule of Evidence 304(g), Manual for Courts-Martial, United States (2000 ed.). The Government filed timely written notice of appeal of the military judge’s ruling pursuant to Article 62(a)(2), UCMJ, 10 USC § 862(a)(2). The Court of Criminal Appeals initially agreed with the ruling by the military judge. 53 MJ 676 (2000). Upon reconsideration, the court concluded that the military judge erred in suppressing appellant’s confession and ordered the case returned to the court-martial for further proceedings. 54 MJ 551 (2000) (en banc).
On appellant’s petition, we granted review of the following issues:
After turning himself in to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI), appellant provided a detailed confession concerning the acts with which he was charged. Appellant’s handwritten statement to AFOSI included the following admissions: (1) on April 24, appellant’s wife "walked in on" him during one of the occasions on which he touched his daughter’s genitals while she was asleep in her bedroom; (2) appellant "immediately" sought help from the chaplain; and (3) the chaplain referred appellant to a family therapist.
At trial, appellant moved to suppress this confession on the ground that his statement was not corroborated adequately under Mil.R.Evid. 304(g), which provides:
We agree with the court below that the facts specifically enumerated by the military judge adequately corroborate those contained in appellant’s written confession. The military judge described a specific interaction between appellant and his wife on the night of April 24, which began when she found him in the child-victim’s bedroom, and which culminated with appellant revealing to his wife his own history of being molested as a child. This finding sufficiently corroborates the truth of appellant’s own statement that his wife "walked in on" him while he was molesting the child in the child’s bedroom on April 24.
The military judge’s finding that two days after this incident appellant sought professional counseling with a chaplain, who then referred him to a therapist, adequately corroborated the truth of appellant’s assertion that he immediately sought help from a chaplain, who then referred him to a therapist.
In light of the direct corroborative value of the facts found by the military judge with respect to the essential facts contained in appellant’s written confession, we agree with the court below that the military judge erred in suppressing the confession under Mil.R.Evid. 304(g). The findings made by the military judge, which raised an inference of truth as to the essential facts admitted, were legally sufficient to corroborate appellant’s confession.
In view of our conclusion that the military judge’s determination was incorrect as a matter of law, we need not reach the second granted issue regarding the ability of the lower court to consider facts in addition to those found by the military judge in evaluating corroborating evidence.
The decision of the United States Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals remanding this case for further proceedings is affirmed. The record of trial is returned to the Judge Advocate General of the Air Force.