Key Witness Remains Silent - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Key Witness Remains Silent

Lt. Ilario Pantano Lt. Ilario Pantano

APRIL 29, 2005 -- A key witness against Ilario Pantano was back in court at Camp Lejeune Friday. Sgt. Daniel Cobern took the stand, only for a minute to say he'll remain silent rather than risk incriminating himself.

Wednesday, Cobern was read his rights on the stand. The reason-- he talked to media before the hearing, violating a court order.

Cobern is one of the prosecution's best witnesses against Pantano. He was there when Pantano killed two Iraqis. The defense is asking the court to grant Cobern immunity so he can be cross examined Saturday.

This hearing is likely to end this weekend. Even when it wraps, everyone will leave the courtroom without knowing if Pantano will be court martialed.

Lt. Barry Edwards explains what happens next.

"The investigating officer has up to seven days to look over the facts and develop a recommendation to the commanding officer of the division."

Lt. Edwards says it's hard to say when the decision will be made. If Pantano is court-martialed he could face the death penalty. Before that, it's back in the courtroom to see if Cobern is allowed to testify.

Reported by Maggie Alexander

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