House votes to dig up veteran involved in homicide

AP News
Posted: Dec 11, 2013 5:23 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House passed legislation Wednesday that instructs the Veterans Affairs Department to unearth the remains of an Army veteran buried with military honors last year even after police said he killed an Indianapolis woman and injured three others before taking his own life.

Current law prohibits military burials in national cemeteries for those who commit capital crimes, but it doesn't make provisions for removing a veteran who is buried in violation of that law.

That's what happened in the case of Michael LeShawn Anderson. He was buried in Michigan's Fort Custer National Cemetery in June 2012. Six days earlier, police said he fatally shot Alicia Dawn Koehl.

The VA said it found out about the circumstances surrounding Anderson's death only after he had been buried and it needed authorization from Congress to remedy the mistake.

Members of Indiana's congressional delegation obliged. The bill covers national cemeteries as well as Arlington National Cemetery, which is administered by the Army.

The Senate passed the same bill three weeks ago. It now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature.

Koehl was a constituent of Rep. Susan Brooks, R-Ind. She sponsored the House version of the legislation.

"I'm outraged not only that the Koehl family had had to endure yet another injustice ... but also that our brave service men and women, who in some cases have given the ultimate sacrifice to their nation, are buried next to a murderous criminal," Brooks said in urging lawmakers to vote for the bill.