Free Leo Church

Unjustly imprisoned by Fort Hood because he put his family first

About Leo Church

with 5 comments

Leo’s  Story:

For over eight months I waited in Ft. Hood, Texas for my lawyers to barter for my freedom and the prosecutors to decide what they found to be fair for my case. My problems started not long after I finished Basic and A.I.T. when I received a call from Angie, the mother of my children, Alyssa and Kaitlynn, saying that the three were homeless and living in a van in Arlington, Texas.

my daughters Saphira and Aerith

my daughters Saphira and Aerith

I asked my company for permission to leave to get them and was blatantly denied. Seeing that I had no other choice I left to pick up my children and then immediately returned to Ft. Hood, back to my company. When I returned I was charged for leaving without permission and given an Article 15, and my pay was cut in half.

Things only got worse from there. I had no one to watch my children. Even though I was not allowed to have my daughters living with me in my barracks room, when I asked for help from my captain I was told to just have them live with me and come to work with me. Unfortunately, the wait for BAH at the time was 6 months. Knowing that I was not allowed to have them in my room over night and it being inappropriate to take them to my company to work, I left to take my children to Amarillo, Texas so I could find them a safe place to live.

Having only my mother to turn to, but knowing that she could not keep them 24 hours a day for me to be able to return to Ft. Hood, I stayed and found myself a civilian job. I knew my obligation was to the Army and my company, but my children were my obligation long before I ever considered enlisting and they needed their father.

I was doing the best that I could for my daughters and when I was picked up for being A.W.O.L. in 2007, Angie came and picked up Alyssa and Kaitlynn, and informed me that I would not see them again, at least not until I was done with the Army. Flown back down to Ft. Hood and once more at my company, I was threatened with 15 to 20 years in prison for leaving my company, regardless if it was for my children or not. So, again I found myself leaving, this time not for my children, but for me.

I was scared and alone, and had no one to help me as it had been since the first day I arrived at Ft. Hood. Over the last year, away from the Army,  I had finally started to build the foundation for my life. A beautiful home, an excellent job, a wonderful wife, Amanda, and my only son on the way, I could not have been happier. But, my desertion charge had been discovered and I was once more picked up and returned to Ft. Hood.



With everything that was going on, from me leaving, even though it was to care for my family, because I could find no support from the Army, Amanda and I had to place our son, Austin in a loving home thru adoption. We did not want him enduring the strife that we had endured and for him to end up being fatherless, because I would be living in prison. I have never known my father, never had the warm experience with my father like going out to throw a football, or go camping, or enjoy the guidance I needed to receive in my life. He just wasn’t there.

On Dec. 11th of this year, I stood before the judge at Ft. Hood in a General Court-Martial and pleaded my case, that had I received the help I needed I would have been able to stay at my company and serve by my fellow soldiers, but I found no mercy. The judge convicted and sentenced me to 15 months in prison with a Bad Conduct Discharge. The prosecutors had only asked for 14 months with no fines and no BCD. Thankfully my previous lawyers had arranged for me to have a pre-trial agreement that capped possible jail time at 8 months.
Still, 8 months is too much. I have lost so much because of the Army; I don’t have custody of my daughters and I had to give up my son for adoption, all because of the Army. My wife is struggling to make ends meet now without me. And I am stuck in this jail.
It is because of everything that has happened to me that I’ve decided to speak out.

Written by James M. Branum

August 28, 2009 at 4:41 am

5 Responses

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  1. This is truly messed up, you hear about people who try to get out because they decide the Army is too tough… This man only wanted to help his kids and the Army screwed up his life.. Best of luck to you Leo, I would have done the same thing for my children!


    August 28, 2009 at 11:03 am

  2. This leaves me speechless. Where does jail enter this scenario? Support for soldiers by the community is critically lacking. “We” don’t support the wars the soldiers are sent to, but this level of non-support is insane!

    mary larson

    August 28, 2009 at 11:54 pm

  3. Sorry for what injustice has been done to you. Typical of our military.Just know that there are still good people in the world ( you being one of them ) Dont give up hope! Good Luck and Stay Strong.


    August 31, 2009 at 2:40 pm

  4. I am so sorry for your loss Leo. I don’t know what else to say. What can we do for you? I don’t even know if you will ever read this. Has a support fund been set up for your wife Amanda? Do you have financial support through “Courage to Resist” to help pay for your legal fees? You can recieve a check to help pay for stamps and phone cards. Today is Sept. 7th and you will be moved tomorrow to a new mailing address. As soon as that is posted, I will send a little cash so you can write to your wife, write to Angie, and try to get her to give a letter to your daughters. Does the family that adopted your son know of your situation? Find a way to get me these answers, because I will do all that I can to help. I’m only 24, and don’t make a lot of money, but I can help raise support. Stay strong brother. You’ve done the right thing, and you should have no regrets. Try to get me Amanda’s mailing address and I can get her a little cash to send to you as well. I am so sorry for what this government has done to you. email me or call. (847) 712-9336

    Breandan McNulty

    September 7, 2009 at 2:08 pm

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