A U.S. Navy captain stationed in Jacksonville, Florida was arrested on Wednesday on obstruction of justice charges after he failed to disclose information about a bloody altercation with a Navy employee who accused him of having an affair with his wife, according to a federal indictment.
His next court appearance is scheduled for April 22, 2019 at 4 p.m. and trial could begin as soon as May 6 at 9 a.m.
The employee and former U.S. Marine, 42-year-old Christopher Tur, was found dead in the waters off the U.S. Naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on Jan. 11, 2015.
Navy Captain John "J.R." Nettleton, 53, was a commander at the base at the time of Tur's death. He was reassigned to Jacksonville in 2012 while the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) investigated Tur's case.
On Wednesday, Nettleton turned himself into NCIS and made his first court appearance in Jacksonville where he pleaded not guilty to the 10 counts filed against him by the Department of Justice (DOJ). The charges include obstruction of justice, concealment of material facts, falsification of records and false statements.
Nettleton wasn't charged with murder or manslaughter.
He was released from custody, but had to surrender his passport.
He faces 110 years max penalty and over $2.5 million in fines if he's convicted. A trial date was set for May 6.
According to the indictment, Nettleton, Tur and Tur's wife -- who wasn't identified -- were attending a party at the Officer's Club on Jan. 9, 2015 in Guantanamo Bay. Tur accused Nettleton of having an affair with his wife.
Tur reportedly confronted Nettleton again at Nettleton's home that night. He reportedly told a friend over the phone that he "just knocked the Skipper out," according to the federal indictment.
On Jan. 10, 2015, the friend confronted Nettleton and told him that Tur never went home the night before.
Nettleton ordered a search for Tur and the Navy opened a missing person investigation.
During the search, the DOJ says Nettleton failed to inform his superior officers and subordinates multiple times that Tur accused him of cheating with his wife, as well as their reported altercation at his home.
Around 11 a.m. on Jan. 11, 2015, the U.S. Coast Guard found Tur's body in the waters off the base.
Search crews also found a paper towel with a reddish-brown stain near Nettleton's backyard, according to the indictment. A DNA test was conducted on the paper towel and it was determined that the blood belonged to Tur, the indictment states.
Nettleton continued to deny rumors that were circulating about Tur's confrontation at the party, the DOJ says.
"Nettleton's denial of an extramarital affair with Tur's spouse was false because Nettleton knew that he and Tur's souse had engaged in an extramarital affair in or about 2014," according to the indictment.
Nettleton finally revealed on Jan. 13, 2015, that the three of them attended the party and that Tur accused him of having an affair with his wife. He was told to inform NCIS, but he did not, according to the indictment.
Nettleton also didn't reveal the altercation between him and Tur, the indictment states.
That same day, an autopsy was conducted. It revealed that Tur drowned and suffered from fractured ribs and rib injuries before he died. It also found he had a cut on his head.
NCIS conducted several searches of Nettleton's home and found suspected bloodstains, which matched Tur's DNA, according to the indictment.
Nettleton was assigned to the headquarters of Navy Region Southeast in Jacksonville in 2012 awaiting the outcome of the investigation.
On Wednesday, he turned himself in and appeared in federal court. He wasn't charged with manslaughter or murder.
A family friend of the victim attended the first appearance and spoke with First Coast News about their disappointment with the charges.
“It’s bittersweet because we really wanted him (Nettleton) to be indicted for murder but we understand the Dept of Justice may not have had enough evidence...he’s getting away with murder.”
He faces 110 years max penalty and over $2.5 million in fines if convicted. A trial date was set for May 6.