JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Four years after the death of a civilian who worked at the U.S. Navy base in Guantanamo Bay, loved ones are hoping the arrest of the Jacksonville-based Navy captain will provide the answers they seek.
Navy Capt. John Nettleton, 53, faces a 10-count federal indictment charging him with hindering the investigation into the death of Christopher Tur, who died while Nettleton was in charge of the base.
Tur, 42, was found dead in the waters off the base Jan. 10, 2015, a day after he was reported missing by his wife, Lara, who also worked as a civilian employee at the Cuban base.
DOCUMENTS: Read a copy of John Nettleton’s indictment
Though an autopsy found the cause of Tur’s death was drowning, the medical examiner also found several injuries, including a head laceration and fractured ribs, indicating he’d been involved in a fight.
According to the indictment, Nettleton did not disclose that he was having an affair with Lara Tur, and that he and Christopher Tur had gotten into a fight in the hours leading up to Tur’s disappearance.
“Let Lady Justice ring her bell,” Tur’s sister, Aline Byrnes, said Thursday of Nettleton’s arrest. “I welcome going into court and seeing him and having him being held accountable for his actions.”
Family said Tur, a former Marine, worked as a civilian manager at the Navy Exchange, while his wife was in charge of Fleet and Family Services and reported directly to Nettleton.
“He adored Lara,” Byrnes said of her brother. “He absolutely loved her, so you could imagine the stress this would have caused him.”
She said it’s unclear what authorities suspect happened after the alleged fight involving her brother and Nettleton, but she bristled at the suggestion that his death was anything other than homicide.
“He was an excellent dad,” she said. “He cared about his kids (and) encouraged them. He was a great brother. He would do anything for anybody at any time.”
Nettleton, who was relieved of his command at the Cuban base in the wake of Tur’s death, turned himself in to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service on Wednesday after the indictment was unsealed.
In federal court hours later, Nettleton pleaded not guilty to two counts of obstructing justice, five counts of false statements, two counts of falsifying records and a count of concealing material facts.
If convicted, Nettleton faces up to 110 years in prison as well as $2.5 million in fines. He's tentatively scheduled to go to trial in May.
He was allowed to remain free on bond Wednesday, but a judge ordered Nettleton to turn over his passport and barred him from leaving the state or having contact with anyone tied to the case.
Nettleton remains on administrative duty at Naval Air Station Jacksonville. Attorney Randy Reep, who has no ties to the case, said the Navy will likely let the case play out before deciding Nettleton’s future.
“The Navy will and can delay his separation from the Navy and today can include their investigation,” he said. “That happens all the time.”