The court-martial trial for Senior Airman Christopher Perez, at the Dyess Air Force Base in Texas, is currently underway.  Perez was arrested after 22-month-old Tamryn Klapheke was found unresponsive in her home at the base in August of 2012.  According to an autopsy, the child died from malnutrition and dehydration.

A military hearing in November of 2012 revealed that Perez was allegedly engaged in an affair with the toddler’s mother, Tiffany, and Perez was living in the Klapheke home when the toddler died.  The toddler’s father and Perez’s mistress’ husband, Thomas Klapheke, is deployed oversees.

Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Perez is charged with dereliction of duty, child endangerment, and adultery.  Testimony hasn’t begun yet, but a motion for change of venue was recently denied.  The focus is currently on legal motions.  The defense is questioning the pretrial publicity locally in Texas as well as the base’s atmosphere of “shaming” toward Perez.  Defense attorneys said Perez hasn’t been able to wear his uniform and has not been allowed to leave the base.

Military officials said they are restricting Perez’s right to wear his uniform for safety reasons because they don’t want people to recognize him.  Trial judge, Col. Donald Eller, has been frustrated by defense attorneys for filing their motions beyond the deadline, but has elected to allow the motions.  Defense attorneys explained that they filed late because they were not aware of and did not have possession of the autopsy photos that are in evidence.

Two-thirds of the jury must find Perez guilty for him to be court-martialed.


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