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Jury endorses 10-year term for Iraq soldier

Sergeant was convicted of ordering his men to free three detainees, then shoot them.

March 20, 2007|From the Associated Press

FT. CAMPBELL, KY. — A soldier accused of ordering subordinates to kill three Iraqi detainees should be sentenced to 10 years in prison, a military jury decided Monday.

Staff Sgt. Raymond L. Girouard, who was convicted Friday of negligent homicide in his court-martial, could have received up to 21 years in prison. He avoided a life sentence when he was acquitted of premeditated murder.

Girouard was also convicted of obstruction of justice for lying to investigators, of conspiracy for trying to conceal the crime and of failure to obey a general order.

He was accused of telling his soldiers to release detainees they had captured during the May 9 raid near Samarra, Iraq, then shoot them as they fled. He is the last and most senior soldier from the 101st Airborne Division to face trial in the killings.

The panel also recommended a reduction in rank, a dishonorable discharge and forfeiture of pay, with a recommendation that the money go to his wife and 4-year-old son.

Girouard showed no emotion during the reading of the sentence, but afterward, he hugged his attorney. His family filed out of the courtroom without speaking to him.

The commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division must review the sentence before it takes effect, and it is unclear how long that will take. Girouard also gets an automatic appeal.

His attorney, Anita Gorecki, called the case a victory, considering that her client could have faced life in prison.

"I believe it does work to fight the system," Gorecki said. "In Sgt. Girouard's case, not only does it show you can fight for your day in court, it was never a possibility for him to plead. He was never going to take a deal."

She said he probably would be eligible for parole in three to four years.

Military prosecutors declined to comment.

Girouard said Monday that he knew he made a mistake in lying about the killings.

"I made a bad decision and I fully accept my responsibility," he said.

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