A Naval Flight Officer who faced attempted murder charges for strangling his fiancée in 2017 has pleaded guilty to a lesser aggravated assault charge and will be dismissed from the Navy, officials confirmed Monday.
Lt. Cmdr. Jason Scott Doyle was initially accused of throwing the unidentified woman onto a couch in December 2017 and strangling her before chasing her out of a St. Johns County, Florida, residence and choking her again “with intent to kill,” according to charge sheets.
He was also charged with battery after military prosecutors said he struck the woman repeatedly in the face and told her, “If I can’t have you, nobody will…I’m going to kill you."
But an aggravated assault charge for strangulation from the same incident was added on March 29, and Doyle pleaded guilty to it last week as part of a pretrial agreement, according to Navy Region Northwest spokesman Joe Kubistek.
Doyle was sentenced to nine months’ confinement, a reprimand and a dismissal, Kubistek said.
Unlike enlisted sailors, commissioned officers can’t be levied a bad conduct or dishonorable discharge.
After a General Court-Martial trial, however, an officer can receive a “dismissal,” which carries the same sanctions that enlisted sailors would receive from a dishonorable discharge.
The other charges Doyle had faced — including attempted murder, assault, conduct unbecoming an officer, obstruction and communication of threats to kill — were dismissed as part of a pretrial agreement, Doyle’s private attorney, Jeffrey Lustick, said.
“The Navy clearly overreached when charging (Lt. Cmdr.) Doyle,” Lustick said in an email.
“From reviewing the evidence in the case and from interviewing the local police, it was easy to conclude that (Lt. Cmdr.) Doyle never did any of those things.
“However, by pleading guilty to the single assault specification, (Lt. Cmdr.) Doyle appropriately took full responsibility for his actions, admitted his mistake, and apologized to those affected,” he said.
His plea deal stipulates that any pay or allowances subject to automatic forfeiture will be allotted to Doyle’s children, Lustick added.
St. Johns County Sheriff’s deputies were called to a residence on Dec. 19, 2017, and found Doyle arguing with a woman, whose name is redacted in the arrest report.
Doyle had thrown her onto a couch and began choking her, but she was able to escape to a bathroom, according to the report.
“(Doyle) forced his way into the locked bathroom and continued the physical altercation by slapping (the woman) with an open hand to the face,” the report states.
The woman fled again, and Doyle caught up to her and began choking her a second time and threatened to kill her, according to the incident report.
She escaped again and called 911, deputies wrote.
When deputies arrived, they found Doyle with a loaded firearm in the backyard but he was "ordered to the ground at gunpoint and secured without incident,” the report states.
The woman had injuries to her neck consistent with being choked, plus "a noticeable knot on her forehead from an unknown cause which occurred during the physical altercation,” according to the report.
Doyle and the woman had been living together “as a family for six months,” and had been engaged for a year, deputies wrote.
The woman told authorities that Doyle had threatened to kill her or her children, and that she thought he was capable of killing her, according to the report.
Initially arrested by Florida authorities on a third-degree felony battery charge, Doyle was later turned over to military authorities for prosecution.
Doyle graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2005.
He was stationed with Patrol Squadron 30 in Jacksonville, Florida, from April 2015 to March 2017, but during the time of the alleged incident he was assigned to Patrol Squadron 47 in the state of Washington, according to his service records.
The “Golden Swordsmen” fly P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft out of Whidbey Island, Washington.
Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.