ARTICLE 32 HEARING TRANSCRIPTS
August 11, 1970: Master Sergeant Leo Violetti
(The hearing reconvened at 1345 hours, 11 August 1970.)
COL ROCK: This hearing will come to order. Let the record reflect that those persons who were in attendance at the recess are currently in the hearing room. Is counsel for the accused prepared with the next witness?
MR. SEGAL: Yes, sir, and I would like to take a moment to advise the investigating officer of the timetable, for the completion of the defense testimony. At the satisfactory rate we are now moving, sir, I anticipate that we finish all of the defense testimony, at least that known of at this moment, by noon recess on Thursday. I would, in the interest of economy, sir, suggest that perhaps if the government intends to put in any rebuttal witnesses as opposed to documentations of reports, that perhaps the government might be prepared to do so, but we could economically use the rest of this week to the extent that we could avoid overlapping very much into next week, if at all. That would be on the one mentioned condition. I think it would expedite the objective of the investigation.
COL ROCK: Does the government have any answer to that? I specifically requested information relative to the attempt yesterday to introduce two documents and their entry required the attendance of certain CID Agents, in order that we might discuss the document with them.
CPT SOMERS: Well, with respect to the CID Agents, two of them have been available to the defense since yesterday and two more will become available to the defense tomorrow and at that point they will have all been made available to the defense.
COL ROCK: Does the interview of those people include your target time of noon Thursday?
MR. SEGAL: Yes, sir. We assume that we will have seen them. We will be talking to two of the investigators tonight after we adjourn and we hope to speak to the other investigators tomorrow evening, so that if he is required, we think we could get them in on Thursday morning's schedule.
COL ROCK: What would counsel for the government foresee after the Thursday noon target that's been estimated?
CPT SOMERS: Well, of course, it's difficult to say. At this point, what may be developed in the defense case that we may need to rebut, but we are currently aware there are some rebuttal witnesses who would be available and might be able to testify then. There will be, I think, at least one or two who will not be readily available at the end of this week. And we'll also, of course, request that the psychiatric evaluations be done next week. I think, perhaps, the possibility that one of those psychiatrists may testify -- well, it's not that; I'm certain there will be a written report. So that I don't foresee any way for us to finish this week. I can say that there may be several -- certainly are, some government rebuttal witnesses who would be available and could be used at the end of this week, but we will not finish.
COL ROCK: Well, I think we all know where we stand now. Certainly the psychiatric examination is something that I desire and I think we all recognize that post-examination, we'll have to have a session reference that. Are you now prepared with the next witness?
MR. SEGAL: Yes, sir, we're ready to proceed. Sergeant Violetti, please.
(MSG Leo J. Violetti was called as a witness for the defense, was sworn, and testified as follows.)
Questions by MR. SEGAL:
Q Sergeant Violetti, will you state your full name and rank, please, for the record?
A Leo J. Violetti, Master Sergeant.
Q What is your organization?
A Medical section, 6th Special Forces Group.
Q Where are you stationed?
A Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Q Sergeant Violetti, may I ask how long you've been a member of the armed forces of the United States?
A Nineteen years.
Q And are you assigned to the medical aid work, medical corps work?
A About 16 years, sir.
Q Did you have occasion to come in contact with or know the accused in this case, Captain Jeffrey R. MacDonald?
A Yes, sir.
Q When did you first come in contact with Captain MacDonald?
A I believe last August.
Q Where did you come in contact with him?
A Working for Captain MacDonald when he was Group surgeon, at the surgeon's office as his head NCOIC, 3d Special Forces.
Q How long had you been with the 3d Special Forces prior to Captain MacDonald's assignment to that organization?
A About a year and a half.
Q And when did the -- well, when the 3d Special Forces was disbanded later on in 1969, to what unit did you transfer?
A I was reassigned to the 6th Special Forces Group.
Q And did you continue to have contact with Captain MacDonald in that new organization?
A Yes, sir. I was still the NCOIC of the medical section, but he was preventive medicine officer.
Q During the period of time from last summer to February 17, 1970, how often would you say you had occasion to work with Captain MacDonald and see him?
A It was daily contact, because I was his chief NCOIC.
Q Would you say these contacts with him were frequent and numerous contacts?
A We worked together about all day.
Q During your 16 years in medical work, have you had occasion to work with other group surgeons and other medical personnel, all professional, that is, doctors?
A Yes, sir. Numerous doctors.
Q Based on your observation of the various doctors that you have worked with in the past and your observation of Captain MacDonald, how would you rate Captain MacDonald, as an officer, a Medical Corps Officer?
A I think he's above average for a medical corps officer, group surgeon.
Q And what, if anything, led to that conclusion about his qualities as a Medical Corps Officer?
A I think it was his motivation to get the job done and his methods.
Q Can you give us any specific instances of things that you observed him do and follow through on these particular lines?
A Well, when he assigned as group surgeon, he was new to the job but he was willing to learn and improve the office and the group as a whole. He went out of his way to find things that he should be doing as the group surgeon.
Q Were there any specific programs that he was involved with that you recognized to be indicative of his initiative as an officer?
A Well, we started revamping the office, writing new SOP to improve ourselves, and then he worked on the overweight reduction program, completely revamped that to where it was much better than it was before. The training program was greatly improved.
Q Have you served in combat areas in the course of your service in the Army?
A Yes, sir.
Q Where have you served, Sergeant?
A In Korea and Vietnam.
Q Would you want to serve with in combat with Captain MacDonald?
A Yes, I would.
Q In Mid-January 1970, did you have occasion to participate or be present at a command lecture or discussion involving drug abuse for men in Special Forces units?
A Yes. 6th Special Forces Group had a lecture.
Q And was that in the middle of January 1970?
A I believe it was January.
Q And did you attend that lecture?
A Yes, sir.
Q Do you recall the persons or the types of persons who participated in the running of that lecture?
A Pat Reese from the Fayetteville Observer, Captain Easton, our Group Surgeon of the 6th, and our Chaplain.
Q During the course of this lecture, did any person make any statement about what was privileged in enlisted personnel discussing drug abuse with medical personnel or other people?
A The Chaplain made reference, or advised the audience that these people would have privileged information with the Chaplain only.
MR. SEGAL: Cross examine.
CPT SOMERS: No questions.
MR. SEGAL: If I may go into an area, sir, it's not covered before, but I think may be of some interest to the investigating officer. During the period of time that you worked with Captain MacDonald, did you have occasion to learn whether any agents of the Criminal Investigation Division or the Army Provost Marshal investigators came to discuss with him any matters pertaining to that area of his assignment?
CPT SOMERS: I object to that. It goes back into an area which we've already had a ruling on.
MR. SEGAL: I believe that the ruling previously, sir, permitted Captain Williams to indicate whether or not, to his knowledge, Captain MacDonald was in contact with criminal investigators in the Army in relation to the drug abuse program, in relation to this lecture in mid-January.
CPT SOMERS: Well, of course, I could also object that there was no cross-examination and so there is nothing to redirect on, but I stand on my objection as it is.
CPT BEALE: As it stands, it's overruled.
MR. SEGAL: Sergeant Violetti, my question was, during the period of time you worked with Captain MacDonald, did you observe or become aware that he was meeting with and having interviews with CID investigators or provost marshal investigators?
A No, sir.
Q Did you ever receive any phone calls from any persons who identified themselves as provost marshal or CID investigators, who sought appointments to meet with and discuss matters with Captain MacDonald?
CPT SOMERS: Object to that. That's totally leading.
MR. SEGAL: I would suggest that this is an appropriate witness, as a Sergeant in Captain MacDonald's section, to advise whether such calls might have come which were intended for Captain MacDonald, which he may or may not have received.
CPT SOMERS: Then he can be asked in a way in which it is not leading?
CPT BEALE: Rephrase your question.
MR. SEGAL: Did you, in your function working with Captain MacDonald, have occasion to receive phone calls which were -- which requested to speak or have contact with Captain MacDonald?
A Personal phone calls for Captain MacDonald?
Q Business phone calls.
A Yes, sir.
Q At any time during the period that you worked for Captain MacDonald, did you receive any such calls for him from persons who were identified as CID or Provost Marshal investigators?
A No, sir.
MR. SEGAL: That's all the questions I have.
CPT SOMERS: No questions.
MR. SEGAL: You may be excused, Sergeant.
COL ROCK: Sergeant Violetti, have you had occasion to talk to any of the young soldiers in the 6th Group whom you suspected were either drug addicts or were concerned about becoming drug addicts?
WITNESS: No, sir, no contact.
COL ROCK: That's not part of your job?
WITNESS: No, sir. Mine is purely administrative NCOIC of the medical section.
COL ROCK: I see. Have you ever had occasion to have any bull sessions with the enlisted medics of your unit and ever heard any of them describe Captain MacDonald as a "fink"?
WITNESS: No, sir.
COL ROCK: I have no further questions.
MR. SEGAL: I have nothing further, sir.
CPT SOMERS: No, sir.
COL ROCK: Sergeant Violetti, you are advised that you will discuss your testimony with no persons other than counsel for the government or counsel for the accused. Do you understand?
WITNESS: Yes, sir.
COL ROCK: You are excused, subject to recall.
(Witness departed the room.)