An Article 32 hearing began Monday at Fort Leavenworth for a U.S. Disciplinary Barracks inmate accused of killing another inmate.


An Article 32 hearing began Monday at Fort Leavenworth for a U.S. Disciplinary Barracks inmate accused of killing another inmate.

Steven Chapman is accused of the premeditated murder of Michael Fricke. Chapman allegedly struck Fricke with a baseball bat during a July 24, 2010, softball game at the Fort Leavenworth prison.

The Article 32 hearing is said to be similar in purpose to a grand jury proceeding. An investigating officer, who presides over the hearing, will make recommendations concerning charges against Chapman.

Both the prosecution and defense participate in the hearing, calling and questioning witnesses.

Fort Leavenworth spokeswoman Rebecca Steed said the hearing could last two or three weeks.

Much of the first day of the proceeding was spent reviewing requested witnesses and the investigating officer, Col. William Deneke, deciding if they should be called to testify.

Deneke said each side plans to call a number of witnesses.

Several witnesses testified Monday afternoon including Special Agent Nicholas Kreiner. He was one of the people with the Army Special Investigation Command who investigated the incident that resulted in Fricke’s death.

Kreiner said eyewitnesses and a surveillance video identified the attacker. But investigators also looked at why and how the attack occurred. He said they looked at a number of theories but never found anything beyond what revealed on the video.

Kreiner said Fricke had been a trusty at the prison. The investigator said he believed Fricke had less than three months to go before he would have been released.

“It was a very, very short amount of time,” Kreiner said.

He said there also was evidence that Fricke at one point had been an informant at the prison.

Another witness was Matthew Dean, a former inmate at the USDB.
Dean, who testified over the telephone, said he saw Chapman strike Fricke with a bat.

“He was swinging pretty hard,” Dean said.

Dean testified that Fricke had been serving as umpire, and another inmate was having a tough time pitching. Chapman was said to be a friend of the pitcher, who was described as someone who had influence over some of the other inmates.

Another witness was Dr. Erik Mitchell, a forensic pathologist who performed an autopsy after Fricke’s death.

“He died as a result of blunt trauma to the head,” Mitchell said of Fricke.