Jury to hear case against retired Navy captain charged in alleged coverup
Former Guantanamo Bay commander John Nettleton accused of lying during probe into Christopher Tur’s disappearance, death
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A federal jury was selected Monday to hear the trial of a retired Navy captain who is charged with obstruction of justice and lying to agents after the 2015 death of a U.S. Marine veteran found dead hours after prosecutors said the two men got into a fight. Opening statements are scheduled to begin Tuesday morning.
John Nettleton was charged after Christopher Tur, a civilian contractor, was found dead at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay Cuba -- the base where Nettleton was the commanding officer.
Federal investigators say, Nettleton and Tur were arguing over an alleged affair between Nettleton and Tur’s wife the night before Tur’s body was found in water on the base.
As Tur’s parents, brother and sister-in-law and family friends sat in the courtroom, the judge stressed the gravity of the proceedings: a case about a military veteran’s mysterious death, an alleged affair, and accusations of a coverup with a former commanding officer who could face up life in prison if convicted.
Nettleton, who retired in 2019, has never publicly told his story, repeatedly giving News4Jax a ‘no comment’ statement when questioned outside the federal courthouse in downtown Jacksonville. But the family of the Tur said they want Nettleton to be held accountable.
The cause of Tur’s death was determined to be a drowning, but the manner of death was unknown.
Monday, 50 potential jurors were asked about any biases or past knowledge of the case. Some had seen media coverage while others said their emotions would be too raw to be fair and impartial.
An emergency room doctor, an oncologist, a government-contracted truck driver and others were among those excused from service due to their circumstances.
There’s a lengthy witness list on both sides. Prosecutors said they are going to use NCIS agents who say they found Tur’s blood in Nettleton’s home on the base. Investigators said the former base leader lied to them about the affair and the fight, even causing them to search for Tur on a different side of the island.
The defense attorneys said they are going to bring in Nettleton’s family members and they are expected to raise questions about aspects of the investigation that they disagree with.
Both sides acknowledge there’s no evidence to make it a murder case, despite what some would speculate. That’s why they were so careful to make sure the jurors, expected to be in court for three to four weeks, knew what they were getting into.
Tur’s family released a statement Monday morning saying:
“It has been five years since we lost him and we have been in the dark, seeking answers since then. At trial, we are expected to learn more and hope a jury holds John Nettleton accountable for his deceit and obstruction of justice.”
Copyright 2020 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.