- The Washington Times - Friday, October 2, 2009

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. | The family of a sailor slain in Newport News is pressing the Navy to court-martial and dishonorably discharge the fellow sailor convicted of killing her.

Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, has already weighed in, telling the Navy last month that the sailor, Darren W. Mackie, 22, should be dishonorably discharged “at the very least” - a move the Navy hasn’t pursued.

The slain sailor’s parents, Mary and Don Trask, of Bradford, Mass., have also written to President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and others.

“I want this on his record,” said Mrs. Trask, the mother of slain sailor Caitlin Trask, 20.

“He dishonored the Navy. I’ve read of people getting court-martialed for much lesser things,” she said. “What do you get court-martialed for, if not for killing someone? This guy killed her in her sailor uniform, in Navy housing.”

In February, in a new apartment complex for Navy sailors, Mackie, a sailor on the USS Kearsarge, put a gun to the back of Trask’s head and pulled the trigger. Trask, a sailor on the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, was friends with Mackie, whom she had dated.

Mackie, a petty officer, first told police he had tripped, and then said he accidentally discharged the gun while cleaning it. He finally said he was fooling around with the gun and didn’t realize it was loaded.

Originally charged with second-degree murder, Mackie pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter. In August, he was sentenced by Circuit Judge C. Peter Tench to the maximum 10 years in prison.

Given that sentence, the Navy decided not to pursue a court-martial, said Herb Josey, a public affairs officer with the Naval Surface Force Atlantic.

“We have full faith in the civilian legal system to provide for just results,” Mr. Josey said. “And the Navy believes justice has been served in this case.”

Mr. Josey said Rear Adm. Kevin Quinn, commander of the Naval Surface Force’s Atlantic Fleet, decided not to pursue the court-martial, which would essentially be a new prosecution.

Mrs. Trask said the Navy told her it plans to discharge Mackie administratively.

The shooting occurred in a housing complex designed for Navy sailors. The complex, Mr. Josey said, is properly in the jurisdiction of police and state prosecutors. In cases by civilian courts, he said, the Navy goes to a court-martial only if the civilian sentence is too light.

The Trasks aren’t satisfied. Mrs. Trask said her daughter loved the Navy and was “on the fast track” to rising through the ranks. She was always looking out for her shipmates, even having given up her Christmas leave last year so another sailor could be with his relatives after his father died.

“My daughter served honorably,” Mrs. Trask said. “She was dedicated and motivated. But she’s just another dead sailor to them.”

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