Former commander of Guantanamo Navy base will serve two years in prison for failing to admit he had a fight with a civilian employee at the baseman shortly before he mysteriously drowned
A federal judge in Jacksonville sentenced Navy Capt. John R. Nettleton, 54, to two years in prison in connection to the death of 42-year-old Christopher Tur, a civilian employee at the base
Nettleton was convicted in January of obstruction of justice, concealing material facts, falsifying records and making false statements
Nettleton the base commander, had been having an affair with Tur’s wife and the two men were in a fight two nights before the Coast Guard found civilian’s body floating in the bay
Nettleton was never charged directly in Tur’s death, but an autopsy found that while Tur died from drowning, his ribs had been fractured before he went into the water, and he had a cut to his head
Nettleton denied the affair to his superiors and did not admit to seeing the deceased shortly before his death
Investigators confirmed the affair and the victim’s wife confirmed the liaison
Nettleton’s daughter had walked in on the fight between her father and Tur at their residence that night
Investigators also found Tur’s blood at Nettleton’s residence on the base
Nettleton, 54, was removed from command shortly after civilian Tur was found floating in waters off the base in January 2015
The former commander wasn’t charged with Tur’s death
A former commander of the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay was sentenced Thursday to two years in prison for interfering with an investigation into the death of a civilian with whom the commander had fought and argued over his affair with the man’s wife.
Nearly six years after the trial opened, retired Navy captain John R. Littleton was convicted of lying and obstructing justice in the investigation into a 2015 death at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay.
U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan sentenced 54-year-old Nettleton to two years in federal prison, plus one year of supervised release and court fees. Federal prosecutors had recommended that Nettleton be sentenced to more than three years in prison on charges stemming from the 2015 death and disappearance of Christopher Tur, a civilian security manager for the Naval Exchange at Guantanamo Bay. Capt. Nettleton was base commander at the time.
Nettleton ‘couldn’t be found guilty of any of the charges merely for violating provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice or for violating any Navy regulations,’ his defense attorneys argued at trial.
Defense asked for a substantially lighter sentence, probation or home confinement, citing many letters that were submitted on Nettleton’s behalf. The case brought him before the court do not represent the person he really, his attorneys said.
In January, a federal jury in Jacksonville convicted Nettleton on six of the eight charges he faced. The charges included obstruction of justice, concealment of material facts, falsification of records and making false statements.
Nettleton was removed from command shortly after Tur, a civilian employee on the base, was found floating in waters off the base on the southeastern coast of Cuba in January 2015.
Events preceding Tur’s death threw suspicion on the base commander. Nettleton had been having an affair with Tur’s wife and the two men were in a fight two nights before the Coast Guard found Tur’s body floating in the bay.
It stemmed from a drunken confrontation at a party at the officer’s club, where Tur accused Nettleton, his commanding officer, of having an affair with his wife, Lara.
The fight spilled over into Nettleton’s home, federal prosecutors determined. Investigators found Tur’s blood in the living room and a bloody towel on the dock.
Nettleton was never charged directly in Tur’s death, but an autopsy found that while Tur died from drowning, his ribs had been fractured before he went into the water, and he had a cut to his head.
Investigation also turned up Tur’s blood inside the entryway of Nettleton’s residence on the base and on a paper towel in the backyard.
Nettleton denied the affair to his superior officer and other investigators. However, investigators later determined the pair had an affair, according to federal prosecutors in Jacksonville, where Nettleton had been sent on temporary duty.
Furthermore, Tur’s wife, Lara, confirmed the affair during her testimony.
Tur came to Guantanamo in May 2011 with his wife, Lara, and two children and worked as the loss prevention safety manager at the Navy Exchange, the main shopping complex on the base.
On the night of his disappearance, Tur confronted the commander and Tur’s wife in front of witnesses at a party at the on-base nightclub.
Each man had “consumed several alcoholic drinks,” according to the indictment.
Later that night, Tur went to Nettleton’s residence, where the two men fought. Nettleton’s daughter heard the commotion and came down to see her father on the ground and Tur standing over him shortly before he left the area and wasn’t seen again, according to documents.
Around that time, a friend of Tur’s reported getting a call from Tur, who said he was at Nettleton’s house and had “just knocked the skipper out,” the documents said.
After Tur went missing, Nettleton failed to tell people leading the search for him that he was last seen at Nettleton’s house when they fought, and the commander instead led them to believe he was last seen at the nightclub, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors argued that Nettleton’s failure to acknowledge his role, wasted valuable Navy and government resources.
In its sentencing memo, the Dept. Of Justice recommended Nettleton serve between three and four years in prison noting that: “There is no question that John R. Nettleton (”Defendant”) misled, concealed, and lied about facts he knew regarding the disappearance and death of Christopher Tur (“Tur”)”.
The sentencing memo adds that, “Although the Defendant was not tried for or convicted of involvement in the death of Tur, the inescapable reality is that if the Defendant did what he should have done—what his legal duty and common human decency commanded—and reported his interactions with Tur when they happened, Tur may still be alive today.”