NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - Two former Blackwater contractors charged in the shooting deathsof two Afghans on May 5, 2009 pleaded not guilty to new chargesagainst them Tuesday in Norfolk Federal Court.
New federal indictments were brought against former contractors29-year-old Christopher Drotleff and 27-year-old Justin Cannon onAugust 5. Both are still charged with second-degree murder,attempted murder and weapons charges stemming from the shootingincident more than a year ago. However, the attempted murder chargewas reduced against both and Cannon's firearm charge was replacedwith use of a machine gun during the killings.
During Tuesday's hearing a judge denied the defense's request tohave thousands of government documents released pertaining tosimilar incidents the accused were involved in, citing it would betoo big of a burden for the government. However, the accused arefree to testify as to those events.
The new charge carries a minimum sentence of 30 years ifconvicted. The murder charge carries a maximum sentence of life inprison.
According to court records, Cannon was armed with a machine gunthat day and Drotleff had a handgun. It's unclear who fired atwhich of the victims.
The two have been accused of drinking at the time of theshootings; something both have denied.
The trial is still set for September 14 and is expected to lasttwo to three weeks. Several witnesses are expected to come in fromout of town and out of the country.
Drotleff and Cannon remain in jail pending trial.
Norfolk Police are investigating the cause of death for male found unconscious on the beach.
Several local families could be out on the streets by the new year, if things don't improve at a Chesapeake shelter.
A disturbing national trend has found it's way into eastern North Carolina. There have been reports of young men punching innocent people -- with the intention of knocking them out -- and the victims never see it coming.