Bergdahl faces up to life in prison in sentencing hearing Monday

Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C.

The fate of Bowe Bergdahl — the Army sergeant who pleaded guilty to endangering his comrades by leaving his post in 2009 in Afghanistan — now rests in the hands of a judge.

A sentencing hearing for Bergdahl starts Monday at Fort Bragg and is expected to feature dramatic testimony about soldiers and a Navy SEAL badly hurt while they searched for the missing Bergdahl, who was held captive for five years by Taliban allies after leaving his post. Bergdahl faces up to life in prison on charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy after pleading guilty to the charges last week.

Bergdahl made his plea without striking a deal with prosecutors for a lesser punishment, opting instead for a move known as a “naked plea,” in hopes of leniency from the judge. The plea, legal experts say, may be a sign that the evidence against Bergdahl was strong.

Eric Carpenter, a former Army lawyer who teaches law at Florida International University, said a naked plea can be advantageous by allowing the defense to refrain from agreeing to certain facts that it might otherwise have to concede to under a plea agreement.

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