By Bill Durland

The second local case (army war resister, Robin Long is the first) is that of Pvt. Daniel Sandate represented by the same defense attorneys. His experiences prior to, during service, and in Canada are quite different from Longs. By his own account, Sandate was verbally and physically abused by his parents in a dysfunctional family life. After his parents' divorce when he was 4, he lived only with his mother until age 12 during which time he was beaten with a wire antenna and suffered isolation. He moved to his father, a retired sailor and Vietnam veteran. At age 14 he put the barrel of a shotgun in his mouth and tried to pull the trigger. He was treated with Prozac and Paxil and diagnosed as a manic depressive, bipolar and placed in a mental facility. His father married and divorced again. Later he mutilated himself with a knife by splitting his tongue. He dropped out of school and tried to kill himself again by overdosing on oxycontin and methadone, and was prescribed Affexa and Zoloft. Thereafter he put a rifle to his mother's head for which he spent two weeks in jail. His stepmother thought the military would provide "structure" and "discipline" so he tried to join the Marines, hoping to die honorably. He told the Marine recruiter about the most recent violent incidents and was rejected. He then went to the Army and told the recruiter the same and received a waiver from the Lt. Col. in charge and enlisted in February 2004. He deployed to Korea and then transferred to Iraq. While there he discovered the body of his friend who shot himself in the head with his army pistol. He survived three IED blasts, and "cleaned up" the remains of a civilian convoy, smelling blood and smoldering flesh. He developed back pains and was diagnosed with a herniated disc. Given anti-anxiety drugs, (by a civilian doctor and not reported to the Army) he overdosed again. Then he was placed again in a mental health facility, in detox and diagnosed with anti-social personality disorder rather than post-traumatic stress disorder. His herniated disc was surgically repaired after he returned to the U.S. He was left with residual nerve damage. A friend suggested he "leave everything behind" and bought him a ticket to Canada. His mental and physical conditions continued in Canada where he cut his wrists and was close to death when placed in a hospital mental health ward. He was charged in court for the destruction of his own marijuana plants and convicted of possession. (He was using marijuana to self-medicate for the mental health issues he was experiencing.) He was remanded to jail and surrendered to Canadian authorities after immigration officials broke the legal chain of custody. He was then placed on suicide watch, had an immigration hearing, was deported, and has been in pre-trial confinement in El Paso County Jail for the last three months.


On the same day as Robin Long's trial took place, Daniel's arraignment was deferred and he was sent for an Army sanity evaluation on whether he could stand trial. This consisted of one hour of questions while supervised by a superior with no further observation and a determination that he was competent to stand trial.


Sandate, by his attorneys asked for a complete mental and physical examination and requested a Chapter 10 discharge (other than honorable) in lieu of court martial, because of the circumstances of his civilian and military life. His request was denied.


On August 19 Sandate offered to plead guilty to the same reduced charge that Long did. His offer was accepted. His trial will not take place before the end of November.


He was told that since he admits his guilt and freely and voluntarily chose to desert that the only issue is the extent of sentence. I would make a comparison of that language with the acts of his recruiter and perhaps many other recruiters who have enlisted in the Army many individuals with similar past civilian histories. The recruiter, knowing Sandate's civilian history, freely and intentionally allowed him to enlist after he was turned down by the Marines and should also be held responsible as should the agency he represented - the U.S. Army. However the Army is not on trial here, only Sandate. Sandate and his civilian attorneys are seeking a Congressional inquiry for him and all others so recruited to bring attention to such travesties. Another injustice is the disproportionality of such sentences as Long's. A U.S. soldier recently pled guilty to charges of accessory to the murder of four Iraqi civilians and received an eight-month sentence. Unlike Robin, he expressed sorrow for his actions while Robin acted out of a conscientious objection to the Iraqi war killings.