Green Beret wants murder case dropped, says investigator guilty of 'stolen valor'

Maj. Matt Golsteyn demanded his murder case go straight to trial or that the charges be dismissed, waiving his right to a preliminary hearing.
Mathew Golsteyn
U.S. Army Captain Mathew Golsteyn is congratulated by fellow soldiers following the Valor Awards ceremony at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, on Jan 4., 2011.James Robinson / The Fayetteville Observer via AP file

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By Courtney Kube and Carol E. Lee

WASHINGTON — A Green Beret accused of murdering an unarmed Afghan man wants charges dropped because an investigator assigned to his case faces his own charges of "stolen valor" – meaning he allegedly claimed medals and other honors he didn't earn.

In a memo filed by his lawyer Wednesday, Maj. Matt Golsteyn demanded his murder case go straight to trial or that the charges be dismissed, waiving his right to a preliminary hearing in military court.

Among the reasons Golsteyn's lawyer, Phil Stackhouse, cites for waiving the "Article 32" preliminary hearing and requesting dismissal is that Army Sgt. 1st Class Mark Delacruz, an Army Criminal Investigation Command agent assigned to Golsteyn's case, has been charged with four specifications of "intent to deceive." According to the charges against Delacruz, he claimed he earned a Purple Heart and falsely wore a Combat Action Badge and other awards. The charges state "such conduct [is] of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces."

In his memo to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC), which will convene the military court for Golsteyn, Stackhouse alleges Delacruz "held himself out as a Special Forces soldier, infantryman, sniper, and bragged about killing people in combat."

"Ironically, he's bragged about losing his Special Forces Tab for an alleged bad shoot in combat," which is the same allegation made against Golsteyn, Stackhouse writes.

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In a statement, Criminal Investigation Command (CID) confirmed that Delacruz, a special agent assigned to the Fort Bragg CID Office, had been charged with "the unauthorized wear" of four awards and falsifying promotion files. "He has been suspended from duty since the allegations came to light in late 2018," said the statement.

The White House and the USASOC did not respond to requests for comment.

Golsteyn is accused of fatally shooting an Afghan man, who he suspected was a bombmaker, on Feb. 22, 2010, in Marjah, Afghanistan. He was charged by the U.S. military with premeditated murder in December 2018.

His case drew the attention of President Donald Trump, who wrote on Twitter in December that he would review Golsteyn's case. He also referred to Golsteyn as a "U.S. military hero."

At the same time a spokesperson for U.S. Army Special Operations Command said "Golsteyn's immediate commander has determined that sufficient evidence exists to warrant" the charge against him.

The Afghan man Golsteyn is accused of killing had been taken into custody over suspicions that he was responsible for planting explosives that killed two Marines, according to military documents. The documents say the man was ultimately released, but he was killed sometime afterward.

Last month Golsteyn asked the Army dismiss his case, alleging in a letter that the military justice system had manipulated evidence against him and engaged in "questionable conduct."

A spokesman for U.S. Special Operations Command, Lt. Col. Loren Bymer, said at the time that Golsteyn's request was under review and "until further notice the Article 32 preliminary hearing is still scheduled for March 14, 2019, at Fort Bragg, N.C."

Golsteyn's January request for dismissal of his case focused on the way investigators used the account of his actions he provided during a CIA polygraph test when he was applying for a job with the spy agency in 2011.

His disclosure during the polygraph of his shooting the Afghan man prompted the Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) to launch an investigation into Golsteyn in late 2011.

In April 2014, Golsteyn received an official reprimand for his actions, but no formal charges were filed at the time due to a lack of physical evidence, military officials said. In 2016, Golsteyn appeared on FOX News and admitted to killing the Afghan man. The interview brought new attention to his case.