Life Sentence For U.S. Sergeant Killing Five Fellow Service Members In Iraq
Sgt. John Russell was give the toughest sentence available.
Sgt. John Russell will serve life without parole for shooting to death two care providers, two patients and an escort at the clinic in Baghdad’s Camp Liberty on May 11, 2009.
“You are not a monster,” Army Judge Col. David Conn said at Russell’s sentencing, according to Reuters. “But you have knowingly and deliberately done incredibly monstrous things.”
“Sgt. Russell, you have forced many to drink from a bitter cup. That cup is now before you,” Conn told Russell.
Russell, 48, had faced the death penalty going into the first phase of his court-martial last month. The Army capped his penalty at a life sentence when Russell agreed to plead guilty to killing the service members…
Russell’s attorney, James Culp, had argued that the soldier suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression at the time of the killings. He had several frustrating encounters with psychiatrists at Camp Liberty and at nearby Camp Stryker in the days before he snapped and shot up the combat stress clinic. Culp suggested in his questioning of witnesses that the doctors were too harsh with Russell.
Russell insisted at his plea hearing last month that he wanted to kill only himself. The soldier had a desk job on what was his third deployment to Iraq.
“I was finished fighting,” he said at the April hearing. “I didn’t want to live anymore. I wished someone would put a bullet in my head.”