FORT MEADE, Md. - An Army doctor who disobeyed orders to deploy to Afghanistan because he questioned President Obama's eligibility to be commander in chief was sentenced by a jury yesterday to six months in a military prison and dismissal from the Army.
The military jury spent nearly five hours deliberating punishment for Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin after three days of court-martial proceedings at Fort Meade, outside Baltimore.
Lakin was convicted of disobeying orders - he had pleaded guilty to that count - and missing a flight that would have gotten him to his eventual deployment. An Army commander, Maj. Gen. Karl Horst, still must approve the sentence returned by the jury. Upon approval of the sentence, Lakin is granted an automatic appeal that would be considered by the Army Court of Criminal Appeals. He was to begin serving his sentence immediately.
In online videos posted on YouTube, Lakin aligned himself with the so-called "birther" movement that questions whether Obama is a natural-born citizen, as the Constitution requires for presidents, and said he was inviting his own court martial.
But Lakin said Wednesday that despite his questions about Obama's eligibility for office, he was wrong not to follow Army orders. He acknowledged that the Army was the wrong place to raise his concerns about Obama, asked to keep his job and said he was now willing to deploy.
Military prosecutors disagreed. Yesterday morning, a military prosecutor asked the jury to sentence Lakin to at least two years in a military prison and to dismiss him from the service.