Trial revealed details about soldier’s pregnant wife’s drinking problem

Sgt. 1st Class Joseph A. Santiago is accused of causing his pregnant wife's (pictured left) death in 2021.

A non-commissioned officer assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group’s support element is facing final deliberations from a jury in connection to the alleged murder of his then-pregnant wife.

The incident, which happened nearly 2 years ago, involved the arrest of Sgt. 1st Class Joseph A. Santiago, who was accused of mortally injuring Meghan Santiago.

Mrs. Santiago, who sustained blunt force injuries in the fall of 2021, was taken to the hospital, where doctors managed to perform an emergency C-section before the mother-to-be expired.

The baby girl survived, despite being born two months early.

Under the UCMJ, Santiago was charged with Article 118 [unlawful premeditated killing], Article 119a [attempting to kill an unborn child], and Article 128 [unlawful use of force].

According to Clarksville Now, the defense attorneys involved attempted to pin the motive of the incident behind the notion that Mr. and Mrs. Santiago both had severe drinking problems, which led to reckless behavior and domestic disputes.

Five bottles of vodka were discovered in the home, including in a children’s backpack and under toys, according to defense attorney Jason Marquez.

“I’ve been doing this awhile, and this is one of the worst investigations I’ve ever seen,” Marquez stated.

However, the prosecution, led by Maj. Heather Tregle, argued that while Mrs. Santiago had substance abuse issues, it had little to do with the alleged murder.

“Meghan wasn’t strong enough to stop her alcohol addiction, and she wasn’t strong enough to stop her husband,” Tregle told the jurors.

The defense claimed that SFC Santiago had no knowledge of his wife being pregnant and that Meghan Santiago went to great lengths to hide her baby bump.

Additionally, the defense argued that Mrs. Santiago tripped over one of many objects strewn across the floor in the disheveled home, which led to her death. This cause of death was later refuted by one of the medical experts.

The prosecution argued that the Santiago family had a history of domestic violence, with the non-commissioned officer usually on the dealing end. They went on to state that Mrs. Santiago had been looking for an opportunity to leave her husband and take their children with her.

“Truth versus the impossible,” Tregle said, “That’s what you’re presented with today in your decision-making process. Supported truth from countless witnesses, countless messages, countless photos and countless injuries. Truth versus the impossible.”

The jury is expected to reveal their verdict on Tuesday.

The 5th Special Forces Group is headquartered at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

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