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Air Force Sergeant Guilty for Refusing to Give DNA Sample

May 10, 1996

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (AP) _ An Air Force sergeant was convicted today of disobeying orders for refusing to give a DNA sample.

Tech Sgt. Warren Sinclair faced an immediate sentencing hearing later in the afternoon before Lt. Col. Linda Murnane, the military judge who found him guilty after a two-day court martial.

There was no visible reaction from Sinclair or his wife and daughter, who were sitting in the room.

The Pentagon ordered DNA samples from service members starting in 1993, to assist in identifying remains. Sinclair, 33, of Hampton, Va., is the third serviceman this year to be convicted of disobeying an order for refusing to provide the samples.

Sinclair could face a bad-conduct discharge, six months’ confinement at hard labor, and forfeiture of two-thirds of his pay for six months.

In closing arguments, prosecutors warned Sinclair was a threat to military discipline and his defense attorney likened him to a conscientious objector.

``The military ordered B-17s to make daylight bombing raids over Germany during World War II with a 70 percent casualty rate, but this accused won’t provide a blood sample,″ said Capt. Joe Pinjuh, a prosecutor.

Defense attorney Eric Seitz responded that Sinclair, a 14-year veteran, never showed any disrespect to the Air Force. But Sinclair believes that giving a DNA sample violates his constitutional rights.

``There are certain orders that are illegal. There are certain rights that people can uphold,″ Seitz said.

Sinclair testified earlier today that he violated his commander’s written order because it violated the constitution, and ``it is our God-given right to maintain possession of our genes.″

Sinclair contends the Defense Department program did not have sufficient safeguards to prevent the DNA from being used for other purposes than the identification of remains. Prosecutors said new safeguards have been established.

Last month in Hawaii, two Marines were convicted of refusing to give blood for the DNA registry, but they were spared imprisonment and bad conduct discharges.

Instead, Cpl. John C. Mayfield III of Dallas and Cpl. Joseph Vlacovsky of Canton, Ohio, got letters of reprimand and a seven-day restriction keeping them from leaving the Kaneohe Marine Base. In both cases, their enlistments were nearly up, and each said they planned to take honorable discharges.

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