Originally created 08/27/99

Adultery leads to jail time



A jury handed down a sentence of four years in prison and a dishonorable discharge Thursday to a Fort Gordon noncommissioned officer who pleaded guilty to fraternizing and adultery.

After an hour of deliberation, a jury of officers and enlisted Army personnel delivered the sentence after Master Sgt. Mitchell F. McMurray said Wednesday he was guilty of charges of having sex with three female subordinates during the past two years.

The sentence is not final until it is reviewed and approved by the base commander, Maj. Gen. Peter M. Cuviello.

The sentence calls for forfeiture of pay, allowances and retirement benefits for the 23-year veteran soldier who is married with three children.

"Why not reduce him to an E1?" asked Capt. Tad Lawson, the Army prosecutor. "He seems to like privates. Let's make him one."

One of the privates with whom Master Sgt. McMurray had sex testified Wednesday that the two had several encounters.

"He asked if I was a virgin," a second private testified. "I said yes. He asked if I had ever been kissed before. I said, yes. ... He gave me a piece of gum and said that he liked to kiss women after they've had a piece of gum or wine. And then he kissed me."

Two of the privates testified Sgt. 1st Class Alvin A. Terrell, 38 -- who faces fraternization charges in a Sept. 14 court-martial -- was aware of the affairs and helped arrange one of them.

Master Sgt. McMurray, 41, entered a pretrial agreement with the government, the details of which were not disclosed during sentencing. The judge presiding over the proceedings, Col. Keith Hodges, said that while a lesser sentence from the jury would override the one recommended in the pretrial agreement, Maj. Gen. Cuviello makes the final decision.

Character witnesses who served with the high-ranking noncommissioned officer in Saudi Arabia and the United States testified on his behalf Thursday. Master Sgt. McMurray read a statement asking the jury for a lighter sentence.

"I am embarrassed and ashamed that you have to sit in judgment of me," he said. "What I did was morally wrong. And there is no excuse for what I did. This will haunt me for the rest of my life."

Clarissa J. Walker can be reached at (706) 828-3851 or cjwalker@augustachronicle.com.