Trial began this week at Sheppard Air Force base in the court martial of Airman 1st Class Matthew Thomas. The panel of officers to hear the case has officially been narrowed from twelve down to only five.
Thomas stands accused of attempting to engage in sexual misconduct with a minor. Specifically, he is charged with attempting to commit a lewd act with a child under the age of sixteen and attempting to persuade, induce or entice a child under the age of eighteen to engage in sexual activity by means of the internet.
Fortunately, there are no victims in this case. 'Tina,' the fourteen-year-old girl Thomas thought he was communicating with, was actually undercover agent Trampess Koskovich.
Koskovich had posted an ad on Craigslist to which Thomas responded. The two began communicating and exchanging explicit sexual messages online over a two-month period. During that time Thomas sent Koskovich seven videos and a number of pictures of himself performing sexual acts.
Eventually, the two arranged a meeting at a home located on base. In December of 2014 Thomas drove to the home, where he was promptly arrested outside.
Thomas took the stand Tuesday to explain to the panel exactly what his intentions were that day last December. During a lengthy examination, Thomas told the panel how he regularly perused Craigslist for casual encounters with strangers. He described several past encounters, and how it was a regular occurrence for those he corresponded with to lie about their age.
During the prosecutions case, which wrapped earlier in the week, it presented evidence that Thomas drove by the home repeatedly on the day in question before deciding to stop. Thomas claimed that only after he drove by and saw a woman stick her head out the door and wave did he stop. That woman was Koskovich.
Thomas said he never imagined 'Tina' to actually be fourteen years old. He described the relief he felt when he saw Koskovich was an adult woman.
Thomas's laptop and cell phone were confiscated and forensically analyzed prior to trial. No evidence of child pornography or other explicit conversations between young girls were found.
Despite Thomas's testimony, the prosecution still claimed his actions were illegal and he should be punished accordingly.
There is no word as to when the trial is expected to wrap up.