Airman Sentenced In Court-Martial At Sheppard Air Force Base - Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

Airman Sentenced In Court-Martial At Sheppard Air Force Base

After 11 hours of deliberation, Airman 1st Class Matthew Thomas has been found guilty of attempting to commit a lewd act with a child under the age of 16.  Thomas has been found not guilty on the second charge of attempting to persuade, induce, or entice a child under the age of 17.

Thomas is sentenced to 6 months confinement, dishonorable discharge, a forfeit of Air Force allowance, and a reduction in grade to E-1. He will also be required to register as a sex offender.

9/03/15

The panel started deliberation Wednesday around 2 p.m. The panel is made up of five officers. Four out of five must enter a guilty vote, for a guilty verdict to be returned to Airman Thomas. Any less than four guilty votes will result in an innocent verdict.

The court adjourned at 6 p.m. Wednesday with no verdict returned. The deliberation will continue Thursday at 8 a.m.

9/02/15

Tuesday was day two in the court-martial against Airman 1st Class Matthew Thomas at Sheppard Air Force base. The panel has officially been selected, and what started off as a 12 officer panel has been narrowed down to only five.

They have now entered the trial portion of this court-martial. Airman Thomas is charged with attempted to commit a lewd act with a child under the age of 16 by intentionally communicating indecent language and exposing himself by the use of the internet.He is also accused of attempting to persuade, induce or entice a child under the age of 17 to engage in sexual activity by means of the internet. 

There are no actual victims in this case. An undercover agent actually set up an ad that was posted on Craigslist in which airman Thomas responded.

The first witness called to the stand today was that undercover agent, Trampess Koskovich.  Koskovich assumed the online profile of a 14-year-old girl named Tina. Throughout the interaction, the Prosecution detailed explicit sexual messages that were exchanged between the two online.

This undercover sting covered a two month period. The prosecution says during that time Airman Thomas sent seven videos of himself performing sexual acts, and a couple other explicit pictures. 

Koskovich also sent images that were altered to Airman Thomas to look like a 13-year-old girl. 

It was through those exchanges that the two set up a meeting time and place for sex. It was a home on that was located on the base. Airman Thomas drove to that home on December 18, 2014. He was arrested outside the home.

The prosecution rested on Tuesday then the defense called Airman 1st Class Matthew Thomas took the stand.

Tuesday was Airman Thomas's opportunity to tell the panel exactly what his intentions were on that day in December 2014. Thomas told the panel that he was no stranger to casual encounters on Craigslist. That’s where he met the undercover agent posing as a 14-year-old. 

He detailed eight different encounters he had arranged on Craigslist since 2012. He said it's through those encounters he learned that those posting and responding to casual encounters aren't always who they claim to be. 

Thomas admits to continuing sexually explicit conversations with someone claiming to be 14; however he said he never imagined the person to actually be that age. 

He said in his past experience he met a number of women who were much older or younger than they depicted themselves. He said there was even an encounter where met with a man that had been posing as a woman. 

He says there were a number of reasons he didn't actually believe the girl to be 14. 

On the day of the meet, between Airman Thomas and the undercover agents, the prosecution said he drove by the home numerous times before stopping.

It was only when he saw a woman at the home peak her head out of the door and waved to him. 

Thomas said he was relieved when he saw what he described as an older woman, who did not appear as the person in the previous pictures sent. The woman who waived to Airman Thomas was an undercover agent.

When Airman Thomas stopped he was arrested. 

Airman Thomas's laptop and cell phone were forensically evaluated. No child pornography or other graphic conversations between any other young girls were discovered. 

Despite what Airman Thomas said, the prosecution said what he did was illegal and should be punished as such. They say regardless of past experience he continued sexually explicit conversation with the intent of having sex with a minor. 

The trial will continue tomorrow at 8 a.m., no word on when it will wrap up.

08/31/15

A court-martial started Monday at Sheppard Air Force Base for Airman 1st Class Matthew Thomas. 

Thomas is charged with attempted to commit a lewd act with a child under the age of 16 by intentionally communicating indecent language and exposing himself by the use of the internet.

He is also accused of attempting to persuade, induce or entice a child under the age of 18 to engage in sexual activity by means of the internet

His charges stem from an undercover sting that happened in November and December of 2014. Monday was the first day of panel selection.

The court started with a 12 officer panel. The prosecution and defense were working Monday to narrow that.

Officials said there can be a 12 officer panel but there has to be a minimum of five officers for the trial to begin.

Court adjourned Monday after individually interview all 12 officers. Court is expected to reconvene at 8 a.m. Tuesday.

If convicted, Thomas could face 20 years in a federal prison and reduction of grade to E-1.

Brittany Costello, Newschannel 6

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