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Sergeant John Russell Sentenced to LWOP in 2009 Slaying of Five Fellow Service Members
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Thread: Sergeant John Russell Sentenced to LWOP in 2009 Slaying of Five Fellow Service Members

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    Sergeant John Russell Sentenced to LWOP in 2009 Slaying of Five Fellow Service Members

    A military judge has recommended that an Army sergeant accused of killing U.S. military personnel at a mental health clinic on a base in Iraq should not face a possible death sentence because he is mentally ill.

    Col. James Pohl said in his recommendation issued Friday that Sgt. John Russells serious mental illness makes execution an inappropriate punishment.

    Russell is charged with opening fire in May 2009 at a combat stress center at Camp Liberty near Baghdad, killing four soldiers and a Navy officer. Russell had received counseling at the center before the shootings after expressing that he was considering harming himself.

    Pohl recommended Russell still face court martial on five counts of premeditated murder.

    An Army general will decide whether to accept Pohls recommendation or not.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/nation...GfK_story.html

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    Attorneys asking Army to provide medical care for suspect in 2009 Iraq clinic shooting deaths

    Attorneys for an Army sergeant charged with killing five service members at an Iraq military bases mental health clinic are concerned about the soldiers medical treatment at a prison in Washington state.

    Civilian lawyer James Culp and military attorneys representing Sgt. John Russell filed a request last month with the Armys I Corps headquarters that Russell receive proper care. Russell, 47, is accused of carrying out the deadliest act of soldier-on-soldier violence in the war in Iraq as he was nearing his third tour in 2009.

    He was moved in January from a military prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas to the prison at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, where he is awaiting court martial later this year.

    At a minimum, we believe regular care from a board-certified psychiatrist is required to ensure that Sgt. Russells medications are appropriate and effective and to generally monitor this psychotic, deeply depressed soldier, the attorneys wrote in their request.

    Culp said Russell is taking anti-depressive and anti-psychotic drugs that are causing his physical condition to deteriorate by elevating his heart rate, blood pressure and weight.

    Russell reportedly has gained 50 pounds as a result of the medications. The drugs are part of his ongoing treatment for mental illness that is at the heart of his case.

    I want Johns problems to be fixed, Culp said, adding that hes worried that Russells physical health could lead to a stroke or heart attack.

    Maj. Chris Ophardt, a spokesman for I Corps, declined to comment Tuesday about the request from Russells attorneys, citing medical privacy and the ongoing criminal case.

    Russell, who grew up near Sherman, Texas, about 60 miles north of Dallas, is charged with five counts of murder for the May 2009 shooting deaths of four fellow Army soldiers and a Navy officer at a combat stress center at Camp Liberty near Baghdad. Hes accused of opening fire at the clinic after becoming increasingly frustrated with the quality of care he was getting from mental health providers there.

    Killed in the shooting were Navy Cmdr. Charles Springle, 52, of Wilmington, N.C., and the following Army service members: Pfc. Michael Edward Yates Jr., 19, of Federalsburg, Md.; Dr. Matthew Houseal, of Amarillo, Texas; Sgt. Christian E. Bueno-Galdos, 25, of Paterson, N.J.; and Spc. Jacob D. Barton, 20, of Lenox, Mo.

    A military judge recommended that Russell not face the death penalty for the charges. A final determination is pending with Army authorities at Lewis-McChord.

    The attorneys making the care request said Russells not a typical prisoner at Lewis-McChord and requires a higher standard of care.

    The failure of the Army mental health system to identify and adequately treat Sgt. Russells mental health disorders undoubtedly contributed to the tragedy which has led to his present confinement, they wrote. Let us avert another tragedy by providing Sgt. Russell with the care that he desperately needs now.

    Russells family and attorneys said during his Article 32 hearing in 2011, the military equivalent to a preliminary hearing, that the soldier had experienced nightmares before his deployment to Iraq stemming from previous combat tours.

    Culp said he didnt believe the Army was intentionally bringing physical harm to Russell and that his client didnt need to be moved back to Fort Leavenworth or transferred to another location for proper care.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/nation...meS_story.html
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    Military Charges Sergeant John Russell in 2009 Slaying of Five Fellow Service Members

    A U.S. soldier accused of killing five fellow servicemen at a military combat stress center in Baghdad in 2009 entered no plea at an arraignment on Monday at a military base in Washington state.

    Sergeant John Russell is accused of going on a shooting spree at Camp Liberty, near the Baghdad airport, in an assault the military said at the time could have been triggered by combat stress.

    Russell, of the 54th Engineer Battalion based in Bamberg, Germany, faces five charges of premeditated murder, one charge of aggravated assault and one charge of attempted murder in connection with the May 2009 shootings. Six months ago, he was ordered to stand trial in a military court that has the power to sentence him to the death penalty, if convicted.

    Two of the five people killed in the shooting were medical staff officers at the counseling center for troops experiencing combat stress. The others were soldiers.

    Russell, tall and broad-shouldered with a military crew-cut style haircut and glasses, was mostly silent during the 15- minute hearing, answering only "Yes, sir" and "No, sir" to the judge's questions.

    Russell's attorney, James Culp, waived hearing of the charges on Russell's behalf and entered no plea for him, which is common practice in military justice procedure.

    SENSITIVE TIME

    The arraignment, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington, comes at a sensitive time for the Army, which is in the process of deciding how to prosecute Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, the soldier accused of killing Afghan villagers in cold blood earlier this year.

    A two-week hearing at Lewis-McChord to establish if there is sufficient evidence to send Bales to a court-martial wrapped up last week following harrowing testimony from Afghan adults and children wounded in the attack.

    Bales' civilian defense lawyers have suggested he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, an argument that has already played a role in Russell's case.

    In the days following the Iraq shooting, Admiral Mike Mullen, then chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the incident highlighted the risks of multiple deployments on soldiers and underlined the need to redouble efforts to deal effectively with combat stress.

    Russell's attorney wrote in a memo this year his client was "facing death because the Army's mental health system failed him."

    Army Colonel James Pohl, who presided over a preliminary hearing in the case last year at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, had called the death penalty an "inappropriate" punishment for Russell because of combat trauma concerns. The Army's General Court-Martial Convening Authority disagreed and referred the case as a capital crime in May.

    At the time, an Army spokesman said that decision was made because of the severity of what he called "blue-on-blue" killings.

    A recent Army study estimated as many as 20 percent of the more than 2 million U.S. troops who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan could suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Before the shooting, Russell's commander had determined that Russell's weapon should be taken away.

    http://www.moneycontrol.com/news/wir...gs_784707.html
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    Trial date set in case of officers murder

    The family of a U.S. Navy commander killed by a U.S. Army soldier in Iraq in 2009 say a trial date of March 11, 2013, has been set for the suspect, and they plan to attend.

    Its been more than three years since U.S. Navy clinical social worker Cmdr. Charles Keith Springle, 52, a Beaufort native, and four other soldiers were killed when Army Sgt. John Russell, 47, a communications specialist from Sherman, Texas, opened fire at the Army 55th Medical Co. Combat Stress Center at Camp Liberty in Baghdad. Sgt. Russell had been referred to the clinic for counseling.

    Cmdr. Springle, a 23-year veteran who was serving as director of the Community Counseling Center at Camp Lejeune, had volunteered to serve at the stress center in Iraq. He was the first Carteret County native killed in Iraq.

    Cmdr. Springles brother, Thomas Springle, a retired U.S. Navy commander and former Raleigh police SWAT team member and his wife Marilyn live in this Down East community and have pushed military and governmental leaders to set a trial date.

    Marilyn Springle said Wednesday that Cmdr. Springles widow, Susan, who lives in Swansboro, was contacted Oct. 29 by a representative with the U.S. Army victim and witness liaison program, informing her that a date had been set. Marilyn Springle then contacted other family members.

    Family members, including Cmdr. Springles widow, his brother Thomas and wife Marilyn Springle, and his parents, Charles and Ruth Springle of Beaufort, met Nov. 29 with two U.S. Army prosecuting attorneys and representatives from the victim and witness liaison office, according to Marilyn Springle.

    The primary information was to reiterate the planned start of the trial for March 11, 2013, with jury selection beginning around March 2, she said. They were inquiring of the family about whether any of us desire to be witnesses during the sentencing phase of the trial.

    Marilyn Springle said the trial would be held at U.S. Army Joint Base Lewis-McCord in Tacoma, Wash. They were told it could take at least six weeks.

    She said the family was still pondering who was willing to testify.

    That is the time when pretty much anyone can testify in order to let the jury know about the impact that the murder of their loved one has had on the family and also to try and let the jury get to know that one that was murdered, she said.

    The Army will only pay for those that are on the witness list, so we are trying to look into getting some affordable housing since it could last up to six weeks. Keiths parents and my husband Tom are certainly planning to stay the whole time. Im pretty sure that Keiths wife Susan and probably his son will also be there the entire time.

    Marilyn Springle added she most likely will be on the witness list for the sentencing phase and wont be able to fly out until that takes place because she cant be away from her job that long.

    She said while shes thankful a date has finally been set, she knows it will be difficult on the family.

    Im glad that we are finally proceeding with the process to bring justice for Keith and there can be some sort of closure for the family to a very painful process, she said.

    Its been a long wait for the Springles, who began a letter-writing and media campaign in September to find out why a trial date had not been set. They encouraged citizens to write their representatives on behalf of the family.

    The Springles contacted Army prosecuting attorneys, an Army victim and witness liaison, the U.S. Secretary of the Army, the Veterans Administration, state representatives and President Barack Obama. They received some general responses prior to a story that ran about their situation in the Sept. 30 edition of the News-Times.

    Marilyn Springle said following the articles publication, representatives from U.S. Congressman Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., and Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., contacted the family.

    We were told they were trying to find out why no date was set, she said.

    Then, his widow was contacted Oct. 29 informing her that a date had been set.

    There was no response to emails sent by the News-Times to U.S. Army prosecuting attorney Capt. Patrick J. Scudieri and Christina Porter, victim and witness liaison with the U.S. Army. Both are assigned to the case.

    The Springles did receive a response Sept. 20 from U.S. Secretary of the Army John McHugh. Part of his response stated that Sgt. Russells case was referred to trial as a capital case. Sgt. Russell was arraigned on June 1, 2012, on five specifications of premeditated murder and remains in pretrial confinement at the Northwest Joint Regional Corrections Facility (at U.S. Army Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, Wash).

    In the letter, the secretary stated Sgt. Russell had been temporarily transferred to the Monmouth County Correctional Institution in New Jersey, so that a defense forensic psychiatrist could further examine him.

    His letter ended by stating that it would be inappropriate for him to meet with the Springles to discuss the case.

    Marilyn Springle said she appreciates the many who wrote letters on behalf of the family.

    Im convinced that encouraged this process along, she said.

    Marilyn Springle said family members of other victims killed by Sgt. Russell have also spoken out about the long wait time, with some starting their own petition drives.

    According to an article in the June 1, 2012, edition of the Los Angeles Times, which covered Sgt. Russells arraignment on May 31, The case, involving the deadliest act of soldier-on-soldier violence in the Iraq war, is likely to rely heavily on psychiatric testimony, both because of the possibility of an insanity defense highly unusual in military cases and the probability that the quality of psychological care Russell received from Army doctors will be a defining question.

    According to the article, Sgt. Russell had previously, but largely unsuccessfully, gone for help with mounting feelings of paranoia, stress and depression.

    Witnesses told investigators Sgt. Russell was repeatedly sent back to his unit without substantial help, according to the article. Just before the shootings, an Army psychologist got into a confrontation with Sgt. Russell, with an Army psychiatrist yelling at Sgt. Russell as he walked out of the clinic while threatening to kill himself, according to testimony presented to Army investigators.

    The article goes on to state that Sgt. Russell postponed entering a plea, and James Culp, his civilian attorney, said no determination had yet been made at the time whether to plead not guilty or to attempt an insanity defense. Much, he said at the time, would depend on the outcome of further mental evaluations.

    Thomas Springle said an Army mental health board in 2009 found that Sgt. Russell was incompetent to stand trial, concluding he suffered from a major depressive disorder. After more than a year of therapy and medications, Sgt. Russell was found by a second mental health board to be competent to stand trial, according to the Los Angeles Times article.

    A military reviewer in May 2012 ruled that he would potentially face the death penalty.

    Cmdr. Springle grew up in Beaufort and attended his freshman year at East Carteret High School. His family then moved to Sanford and he graduated from Sanford Central High School. His parents later moved back to the family home in Beaufort.

    Cmdr. Springles funeral was held May 20, 2009, at Munden Funeral Home in Morehead City. He was buried June 16, 2009, in Arlington National Cemetery.

    The Cmdr. Charles K. Springle Training Center was dedicated December 2009 aboard Camp Lejeune in honor of the late Beaufort native.

    At the center, military command teams, clinical teams and other military and civilian groups are offered specialized training on such topics as suicide prevention, post traumatic stress disorder, anger management, combat stress and other issues that contribute to family stressors.

    Family and friends also established in May 2009 the Charles Keith Springle, Ph.D. Memorial Scholarship Fund through the School of Social Work at UNC-Chapel Hill, where Cmdr. Springle completed his undergraduate and graduate work. He received his Ph.D. in social work from the University of Alabama.

    The scholarship supports military-dependent students in the Masters of Social Work program who are working with military families or have an interest in mental health care for veterans and their families.

    Contributions to the memorial fund may be made to the UNC School of Social Work (payee) c/o UNC School of Social Work Development Office, 325 Pittsboro St., Campus Box 3550, Chapel Hill, N.C., 27599-3550.

    For more information on Cmdr. Springle, go to http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/ckspringle.htm.

    http://www.carolinacoastonline.com/n...a4bcf887a.html
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    Four years after Camp Liberty killings, families losing patience

    On the day Sgt. John Russell allegedly walked into the mental health clinic at Camp Liberty in Baghdad and shot five U.S. service members to death, Pfc. Jacob Barton was just signing in at the front desk. It was the day after Mothers Day, the first since his mother had died the previous year, and he was depressed.

    He didnt have anyone to call, said his sister, Hannah Barton, who had enlisted in the Army before her brother.

    As Barton, 20, prepared to check his weapon at the desk, Russell began shooting, prosecutors say, and another soldier tried in vain to grab Bartons weapon and return fire. Three of the four service members in the waiting room died in the shootings described in Mondays Los Angeles Times. Barton was among the dead, as were two clinic staffers.

    Since then, victims' families have grown increasingly frustrated at how long it has taken to bring Russell to trial. The court-martial scheduled to begin in May comes more than four years after the 2009 killings.

    Barton said it has been irksome to see Russells lawyers argue that he was too mentally ill to be held responsible for his actions, and that he was provoked by alleged taunts and stern treatment from Army psychiatrists.

    The problem is that anybody else that was at that clinic that could vouch for the good treatment they received is dead, Barton said.

    Everyones trying to blame the MPs and the doctors, instead of blaming Russell, she said. Me and thousands of other soldiers all went to combat stress clinics in Baghdad, Tikrit, everywhere. And we didnt kill anyone.

    Navy Cmdr. Keith Springle, a 52-year-old clinical social worker who had seen Russell briefly before the killings and referred him to a psychiatrist, was also gunned down. Thomas Springle said he has watched his brothers children trapped in a time warp waiting for their fathers killer to be tried.

    The evil act of John Russell could have been dealt with and put away by now if you had carried out your responsibilities and prosecuted this case in a reasonable time frame, Springle said in a recent letter to Army commanders. Do you have it anywhere in your heart to care about this?

    Springle said in an interview that many family members would be willing to accept a plea bargain that didnt involve the death penalty if it would mean the trial would proceed and Russell would be behind bars for life.

    Hannah Barton agreed.

    I think he should have to sit in a prison cell for the rest of his life and look at pictures of the people he killed, she said. One picture of each person, for the rest of his life. I think that would be just punishment.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/n...,4825310.story
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    US soldier accused in Iraq killings reaches deal to avoid death penalty -lawyer

    A U.S. soldier accused of shooting dead five fellow servicemen at a military counseling center in Iraq has struck a plea deal with Army prosecutors that would spare him from facing the death penalty, his lawyer said on Friday.

    Army Sergeant John Russell, under confinement at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington, is accused of going on a shooting frenzy at Camp Liberty, adjacent to the Baghdad airport, in a 2009 attack his lawyers have insisted stemmed from combat stress.

    "We have reached an agreement and both parties have entered into the agreement," his civilian attorney, James Culp said, adding that Russell would plead guilty at a hearing on Monday to five counts of intentional murder, one count of attempted murder, and one of assault.

    (Reporting by Eric M. Johnson; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)
    http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/u...enalty--lawyer

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    U.S. soldier found guilty of 5 premeditated killings in Iraq

    A military judge found ArmySgt. John Russell guilty of premeditated murder Monday in the 2009 killings of five fellow service members at a combat stress clinic in Iraq.

    Russell now faces a sentencing phase of his court-martial to determine whether he will face life in prison with or without the possibility of release.

    Russell, a 14-year veteran from Sherman, Texas, 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 that the killings were premeditated.

    The judge, Army Col. David Conn, announced his decision Monday, following a streamlined court-martial that concluded Saturday, Army spokesman Lt. Col. Gary Dangerfield said.

    The shooting was one of the worst instances of soldier-on-soldier violence in the Iraq war and raised questions about the mental health problems for soldiers caused by repeated tours of duty.

    Killed in the 2009 shooting in Baghdad 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.

    Russell’s lawyers argued that he was deluded by depression and despair at the time. An Army mental health board found that Russell suffered from severe depression with psychotic features and post-combat stress.

    Russell long sought help with sleep troubles and was stammering and crying for help in the days before the shooting. His commanders were so alarmed that they disarmed him and sent him for repeated visits to mental health clinics, attorney James Culp said.

    But prosecutors argued that Russell was trying to paint himself as mentally ill in an attempt to win early retirement — just as he was facing a sexual harassment complaint that could derail his career and his benefits.

    The day before the killings, Dr. Michael Jones, a psychiatrist, told him that a mental disability retirement would require “some kind of suicidal psychotic crisis,” Maj. Daniel Mazzone said during closing arguments, according to the Los Angeles Times.

    But when Russell saw Dr. Jones again the next day, the psychiatrist said he had no intention of giving him “a golden ticket” out of the Army.

    When Russell returned about an hour later, prosecutors say, he was looking for Dr. Jones but wound up killing two patients, a bystander and two other mental health workers, including Springle, who also briefly had treated Russell in the days before the shootings. Dr. Jones escaped injury by jumping out a window.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/...#ixzz2TClVKeYu
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    Sgt. John Russell


    Army combat stress expert gets life for shooting 5 soldiers

    A U.S. Army sergeant was sentenced Thursday to life in prison without parole for gunning down five fellow service members at a combat stress clinic in Iraq.

    The sentence handed down at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, near Tacoma, Washington, came after Sgt. John Russell pleaded guilty to the killings in a deal in which prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty.

    Russell pleaded guilty to the May 11, 2009, killings at Baghdad's Camp Liberty, telling a military court last month that he "did it out of rage."

    The only question facing the judge, Col. David Conn, was whether Russell committed the slayings with premeditation, which the 48-year-old soldier disputed.

    During a brief sentencing hearing, Conn ruled Russell killed with premeditation," meaning the sergeant could not be given a lesser sentence.

    As part of last month's plea agreement, Russell described to the court how he killed Navy Cmdr. Charles Springle, Army Maj. Matthew Houseal, Sgt. Christian Bueno-Galdos, Spec. Jacob Barton and Pfc. Michael Yates Jr.

    It was the first time Russell had publicly detailed what happened at the clinic. Russell, a communications specialist, was on his third deployment to Iraq.

    His attorneys argued Russell suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and a brain injury from previous combat, which make him not fully responsible for the killings.

    As part of the sentence, Russell was reduced in rank to a private and ordered dishonorably discharged from the Army, Maj. Barbara Junius, a military spokeswoman, said.

    http://www.military1.com/all/article...ing-5-soldiers

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    No-one is above the law. The law must be allowed to take its course.

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