Soldier Gets Life Without Parole in Iraq Killings

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. (AP) - An Army sergeant has been sentenced to life in prison without parole for the 2009 killings of five fellow service members at a combat stress clinic in Iraq.

A military judge, Army Col. David Conn, found Sgt. John Russell guilty of premeditated murder on Monday and imposed the sentence Thursday. The only other possible penalty for Russell would have been life in prison with the possibility of release.

Army spokesman Lt. Col. Gary Dangerfield said late Thursday that Russell would be transferred soon to Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.

The 14-year veteran from Sherman, Texas, had previously pleaded guilty to unpremeditated murder in exchange for prosecutors taking the death penalty off the table. Under the agreement, prosecutors were allowed to try to prove to an Army judge at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state that the killings were premeditated.

The shooting was one of the worst instances of soldier-on-soldier violence in the Iraq war. Russell's lawyers argued that he was deluded by depression and despair at the time.

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