An Oakland single mother-soldier who refused to deploy to Afghanistan because she had nobody to care for her infant son during her time away will be discharged from the Army but won't face a court martial, officials said Thursday.
Spc. Alexis Hutchinson, an Army cook stationed at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, was arrested in November after skipping her unit's deployment flight. Hutchinson, 21, said she couldn't leave her then 10-month-old son, Kamani, because her mother had to back out of plans to keep the child a few days before the soldier's scheduled departure.
Hutchinson has been given an other than-honorable discharge, was demoted from specialist to private and will lose all military and veteran benefits but will not face criminal charges or jail time. Last month, the Army threatened a court martial and filed criminal charges against Hutchinson which would have carried a maximum of two years behind bars.
"She's excited that she's no longer facing jail and can still be with her son, which is the most important thing," said Rai Sue Sussman, Hutchinson's civilian attorney. "We're very happy about it right now."
Hunter Army Airfield spokesman Kevin Larson said the Army had evidence that Hutchinson, regardless of her family situation, would have resisted deploying "by any means." He said commanders decided a court-martial would be too disruptive to the Army, requiring soldiers now in Afghanistan to return to the U.S. to testify.
"This case wasn't about a soldier having to choose between her duty to the nation and her family," Larson said. "There is evidence both from Pvt. Hutchinson and her fellow soldiers to indicate she had no intentions of deploying."
Sussman denied that Hutchinson was exploiting her status as a single-mom to get out of going to Afghanistan.
"She was willing to deploy, and was ready to do that if her mother had not backed out of taking care of her child," she said.