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Murder Trial Of Slain Navy Broadcaster Begins; Airman Pleads Not Guilty

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Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dmitry Chepusov

The court-martial of Air Force Staff Sgt. Sean Oliver, who has been charged with killing Navy Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class Dmitry Chepusov, started Monday at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

Stars and Stripes reports the trial started off with a not guilty plea from Oliver. He faces life in prison if found guilty of murdering Chepusov.

A little background on the case: Both Chepusov and Oliver worked for American Forces Network-Europe.

German police stopped Oliver in the early morning hours of Dec. 14, 2013, for driving erratically in Kaiserslautern, near Ramstein Air Base.

Chepusov's dead body was in the passenger seat of Oliver's car.

German authorities later performed an autopsy on Chepusov, and ruled he died from “force to the throat.”

At a hearing in April, prosecutors laid out Oliver's motive for allegedly killing Chepusov; Alejandra Zolezzi, Chepusov's wife, was having an affair with defendant Oliver. Prosecutors say Chepusov threatened to disclose that affair to Oliver's chain of command:

Were he to have done that, Zolezzi would have been sent back to the U.S. Oliver, meanwhile, might have lost both his girlfriend and his military career.

Money may also have been a motive, prosecutors surmised:

Oliver planned to murder Chepusov in order to save his career and keep his girlfriend (Chepusov's wife), who would receive a $400,000 life insurance payout when Chepusov died.

Army Spc. Cody Kramer is expected to testify against Oliver at his court-martial, as part of an agreement the soldier made with prosecutors in October. Kramer has already pleaded guilty to lying to investigators, according to the Air Force Times.

The trial is expected to take at least two weeks.

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