A junior enlisted soldier stationed at Fort Stewart, Georgia, faces a general court-martial next week on a slew of charges stemming from years of alleged steroid use and domestic abuse that spanned across a marriage and two subsequent relationships, culminating in a December 2020 attempt to kill an unborn child.
Spc. Tyler Monroe’s case — including an incident where he allegedly assaulted the third woman days after he learned he was charged with assaulting the first two women — raises questions about the difficulty of securing pre-trial confinement in the military justice system, according to a top military law expert.
“I don’t know why this guy got out [of pre-trial confinement],” said Eugene Fidell, a military law expert and an adjunct professor at the NYU School of Law. He also thinks the military justice system may need more options for pre-trial restrictions in order to protect victims and the public.
Monroe is charged with one specification of sexual assault; one specification of attempting to kill an unborn child; one specification of wrongful imprisonment; 17 specifications of assault against intimate partners; two specifications of domestic violence; one specification of obstructing justice; one specification of drug abuse; and one specification of conduct bringing discredit upon the Army.
Attorneys for Monroe, who is assigned to 1st Battalion, 41st Field Artillery Regiment, part of the 3rd Infantry Divison’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, declined to make a statement when reached by Army Times.
Fort Stewart officials released Monroe’s redacted charge sheet to Army Times. Division spokesperson Lt. Col. Lindsey Elder warned that “Monroe is considered innocent of these accusations until proven guilty,” but added that the division takes “all accusations of domestic violence that are reported to us seriously, and help is available.”
Army officials refused to reveal when the service’s Criminal Investigative Division began investigating the abuse allegations, despite service regulations permitting them to do so.
The alleged abuse
According to the charge sheet, Monroe began abusing his then-wife after returning from a nine-month Korea rotation in October 2018. Army Times does not identify survivors of domestic abuse or sexual assault without their consent.
It started small. On Oct. 14, 2018, he “push[ed]” her while in Savannah, Georgia, the charge sheet said. He also allegedly held her against her will repeatedly beginning on Oct. 29.
A couple months later, the abuse grew worse, according to the charge sheet.
In a Dec. 1 incident in Ludowici, Georgia, Monroe sexually assaulted his wife amid a violent assault where he reportedly punched her torso, squeezed her head and choked her, the charge sheet said. The following day, he choked her again, the charge sheet added.
The pattern of abuse continued into 2019, prosecutors say. That’s also when his steroid abuse allegedly began.
Monroe held his wife against her will and abused her again between Jan. 1 and June 30, the charge sheet said. He also choked her on a regular basis — “divers occasions,” the charge sheet added — between Jan. 1 and Aug. 11 of that year.
Monroe threw a video game controller at his wife in a May 25, 2019 assault, the charge sheet said. He also faces a domestic violence charge from that day for reportedly “kicking [her] dog...with the intent to threaten or intimidate” her.
His wife returned to a family home in eastern Michigan in July 2019, the charge sheet and divorce records indicate, where Monroe allegedly assaulted her again between July 1 and July 10 “by causing her head to strike a dashboard.”
The couple permanently separated on July 21, according to divorce records.
A second and third victim
Soon after returning to Georgia, Monroe had a new intimate partner and quickly began abusing her, as well, the charge sheet said.
He’s charged with grabbing her arms “on divers occasions” between Aug. 1 and May 31, 2020, according to the charge sheet.
Monroe also allegedly assaulted the second woman on two occasions — by “pulling her hair with his hand and holding her body down with his arms” in Savannah on Nov. 17, 2019, and by “throwing a wet paper towel at her face” in early 2020, the charge sheet said.
It’s not clear when and how Army officials learned of Monroe’s alleged conduct, but his company commander preferred criminal charges and read them to him on Nov. 30, 2020.
That was a Monday.
The following Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, he committed the worst assault yet against a third woman — also described as an “intimate partner” in the charge sheet.
Monroe reportedly punched the woman, who was pregnant, in the stomach in an “attempt to kill [an] unborn child,” the charges read. He also pushed her and choked her, according to the charge sheet, and took her phone and hung up a 911 call.
The specialist quickly faced more charges from the reported assault against the third woman, and was arraigned on all of the charges March 24, 2021.
Was pre-trial confinement warranted?
The rules governing military courts martial allow commanders to impose pre-trial confinement and jail accused soldiers before trial “on a case-by-case basis,” division spokesperson Elder said.
“Under military rules, the restraint imposed should not be more rigorous than the circumstances require to ensure the presence of the accused at trial or to prevent foreseeable serious misconduct,” she added, comparing the practice to when civilians are held without bail.
Monroe seemingly didn’t meet the bar of “foreseeable serious misconduct” before he assaulted the third woman, despite publicly sharing a joke on his Facebook profile about how “ignoring [his] text but seeing that [someone is online on social media] really brings out the Aaron Hernandez in [him].”
The joke references an NFL player with a history of domestic violence allegations who died by suicide in prison in 2017 after being convicted of murder.
Elder, the 3rd Infantry Division spokesperson said the command can’t “comment further on any of the alleged facts and circumstances of the case,” when asked why Monroe wasn’t ordered into pre-trial confinement after being read his initial charges.
But in late September, more than nine months after he allegedly assaulted the third woman, the specialist was ordered into pre-trial confinement and jailed in Liberty County, Georgia.
“On 27 September 2021, SPC Monroe’s immediate commander ordered him into pre-trial confinement,” confirmed Elder. That means Monroe’s commander either thought he was a flight risk or that there was a “foreseeable” risk of additional serious misconduct at that point in time.
But a week later, he was released after “an independent military magistrate reviewed the facts and circumstances of SPC Monroe’s pretrial confinement, and determined that continued confinement was not warranted under the Rules for Court-Martial,” she said.
Fort Stewart officials won’t say why Monroe’s commander tried to impose pre-trial confinement or why the magistrate ordered him released, citing the upcoming trial. They also wouldn’t allow Army Times to review documents associated with the request.
Fidell, the legal expert, said that the lack of a middle ground on pre-trial restrictions in the military justice system disincentivizes pre-trial confinement.
As the system currently stands, commanders can impose either paper pre-trial restrictions, like no contact orders, or request pre-trial confinement, Fidell explained. The system has no middle ground, such as initially jailing an accused service member and releasing them on bail with conditions that, if violated, would send them back to jail.
Commanders may also be hesitant to request pre-trial confinement because it takes a soldier out of their ranks, possibly impeding missions and training while the service member awaits trial, Fidell said.
“The U.S. military justice system doesn’t have bail,” Fidell observed. “Maybe it should.”
Either way, he added, “hindsight is 20/20″ regarding confinement decisions.
Monroe’s trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 28 at Fort Stewart, Elder said. It’s open to the public.
Davis Winkie is a senior reporter covering the Army, specializing in accountability reporting, personnel issues and military justice. He joined Military Times in 2020. Davis studied history at Vanderbilt University and UNC-Chapel Hill, writing a master's thesis about how the Cold War-era Defense Department influenced Hollywood's WWII movies.