My Lai Incident - March 16, 1968: The Trial of Captain Ernest Medina

Collection Summary

Title: My Lai Incident - March 16, 1968: The Trial of Captain Ernest Medina
Call Number: MS 74-27
Size: 3.0 linear feet
Acquisition: Unknown source
Processed by: DAO, 8-28-1974; SMC, 3-9-1998; MN, 1-2009
Restrictions: None

Literary Rights

Literary rights were not granted to Wichita State University. When permission is granted to examine the manuscripts, it is not an authorization to publish them. Manuscripts cannot be used for publication without regard for common law literary rights, copyright laws and the laws of libel. It is the responsibility of the researcher and his/her publisher to obtain permission to publish. Scholars and students who eventually plan to have their work published are urged to make inquiry regarding overall restrictions on publication before initial research.

Content Note

The My Lai Incident Collection contains the transcript of the proceedings of the court martial against Captain Ernest Medina. The charges involved were the alleged premeditated murder of approximately 100 persons at the Vietnamese village of My Lai (4) and assault with a deadly weapon during the interrogation of what was believed to be a Viet Cong prisoner. Captain Medina was subsequently acquitted of all charges after a lengthy and involved trial. The collection also contains photographs of the scene and the victims, various pleadings, and other miscellaneous court rulings and materials.

Detailed Description: Box and Folder Listing

Box 1 Volume 1 Primarily concerns the preliminary proceedings, i.e., the summary of charges, summary of evidence, and the initial witness list. Also discussed is the timing of the charges against Medina and the fact that the charges against most of the participants were dropped, leaving Medina as the culprit. In essence, the defense was attacking the validity of the prosecution's case and indirectly their ethics on the grounds that they diluted the Hutto case in order to preserve the case against Medina. This dilution occurred when they refused to allow Medina to testify as a witness in the Hutto trial or the Calle trial. It is at this point that the defense clearly hints at the possibility of a mistrial.
Box 1 Volume 2 Contains the actual examination and cross-examination of potential court members (jurors).
Box 2 Volume 1 Begins the instructions to the court members, opening statements, and rebuttal. Included also is a discussion as to the admissibility or inadmissibility of polygraph tests. It is at this point that the prosecution calls its first witness. Witnesses: Photographer, James Dursi, Gregory Olsen, Charles Sledge, Robert Mauro, Robert Maples, Bergthold, Grezesik, Thomas Turner, Bunning, Tommy Moss, Gonzalez, Beardslee, Larry Polston, John Smail.
Box 2 Volume 2 Witnesses for the prosecution (continued): LaCross, Flores, Glimpse, Sergeant Maroney, Thomas Kinch, Milliens, Culverhouse, Mr. Thompson, Colburn, Capezza, Martin, Calvin Hawkins, Heming, James Flynn, Louis Martin, Michael Burnhardt, Widmer.
Box 3 Volume 1 Controversy over whether Widmer should be forced to testify or allowed to take the Fifth Amendment. Also arguments as to the admissibility of the depositions of the Vietnamese interpreters into evidence. Witnesses: Brisentine, polygraph specialist, Major Charles Calhoun. Government rested its case and the defense began its case with a summation of what the prosecution's witnesses had testified.
Box 3 Volume 2 Defense witnesses: Robert Lee, Van Leer, Michael Terry, Gene Oliver, Colonel Blackledge, Captain Riggs, Dr. Bourne, Colonel Luper, Captain Hicks, Roger Alaoux, Colonel Tom Reid, Eugene Kotouc. At this point a challenge to the objectivity of the Military Judge was made and the matter was subsequently dropped after a closed court hearing on the motion. Witnesses (continued): Brigadier General Lipscomb, William Catse, Leanard Harelson (polygraph expert), Lieutenant Colonel Mathews, Lieutenant Colonel Quinn, Major Reese, Captain Hicks, Staff Sergeant Fagan, John H. Paul.
Box 4 Volume 1 Witnesses: John H. Paul (continued), Captain Medina, Colonel Edwin Beers, Major Davis, Captain Rhinehart, Gerald Shelton, Charles Seketa, Gene Oliver, Captain Darwin Jaster. Admitted into evidence was the log of transmissions for March 16. The summations by both sides, instructions to the jury, and finally the verdict are contained in this volume.
Box 4 Volume 2 This volume contains the pleadings, exhibits, depositions, and pictures, as well as the transmission log referred to in the general text of the transcript.
Box 5 Volume 1 Motion to Dismiss, Defense Work Project (for the eyes of the Military Judge only), efficiency ratings, list of witnesses, memorandum briefs on points of law, and also materials derived from the pretrial conferences.
Box 5 Volume 2 A continuation of the above described materials.
Box 6 Daily Morning Report on Status stating troop disbursements of Medina's division in Vietnam, from January 1968 to March 1968, listing injured, reassignments, and TDY. It also lists commander changes, transfers, and assignments.