FORT MEADE, Md. — An Army doctor who disobeyed orders to deploy to Afghanistan because he questioned President Barack Obama's eligibility to be commander in chief was sentenced by a jury Thursday to six months in a military prison and dismissal from the Army.
The military jury spent nearly five hours deliberating punishment for Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin after three days of court-martial proceedings at Fort Meade, outside Baltimore.
Lakin, a 17-year veteran from Greeley, Colo., was convicted of disobeying orders — he had pleaded guilty to that count — and missing a flight that would have gotten him to his deployment. An Army commander, Maj. Gen. Karl Horst, still has to approve the sentence returned by the jury. Upon approval of the sentence, Lakin is granted an automatic appeal that would be considered by the Army Court of Criminal Appeals. He was to begin serving his sentence immediately.
In online videos posted on YouTube, Lakin aligned himself with the so-called "birther" movement that questions whether Obama is a natural-born citizen, as the Constitution requires for presidents.
But Lakin said Wednesday that despite his questions about Obama's eligibility for office, he was wrong not to follow Army orders. He asked to keep his job and said he was now willing to deploy.
"I don't want it to end this way," Lakin told the jury Wednesday under questioning from his lawyer. "I want to continue to serve."
The military prosecutor, Capt. Philip J. O'Beirne, told the jury Thursday that Lakin had other options, such as resigning or asking not to be deployed, if he had issues with his orders. Instead, he used his deployment earlier this year as a political ploy.
Officials in Hawaii say they have seen and verified Obama's original 1961 birth certificate, which is on record with that state.