Crucial decision in Iraq murders court martial
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. (AP) — A military judge at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington could decide today whether an Army sergeant who fatally shot five fellow service members in Iraq acted with premeditation.
After that determination, a sentencing hearing for Sgt. John Russell is expected to take another week. The 14-year veteran from Sherman, Texas, already has pleaded guilty to five specifications of murder in a plea agreement to avoid a death sentence.
Premeditation is a factor in whether Russell must serve life in prison.
Killed in the 2009 shooting were Navy Cmdr. Charles Springle, of Wilmington, N.C., and four Army service members: Pfc. Michael Edward Yates Jr., of Federalsburg, Md.; Dr. Matthew Houseal, of Amarillo, Texas; Sgt. Christian E. Bueno-Galdos, of Paterson, N.J.; and Spc. Jacob D. Barton, of Lenox, Mo.