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Defense: Soldier's Goal Was to Die, Not Kill Comrades

Posted September 19, 2007
Updated September 21, 2007

— A soldier accused of opening fire on his unit at Fort Bragg 12 years ago was suicidal and was not focused on killing anyone, defense lawyers said Wednesday.

Sgt. William J. Kreutzer Jr. is charged with one specification of premeditated murder, 18 specifications of attempted murder, one specification of violating a general order by transporting weapons on post and one specification of larceny of government property.

The charges stem from an Oct. 27, 1995, shooting at Towle Stadium of members of the 2nd Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division. Maj. Stephen Mark Badger was killed and 18 other soldiers were wounded in the ambush attack, which came during an early morning run by hundreds of paratroopers.

Two Special Operations soldiers tackled Kreutzer, who they said was firing on his comrades from some nearby woods.

Kreutzer was convicted in a 1996 trial of premeditated murder and 18 counts of attempted murder and was sentenced to death. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces overturned the conviction and death sentence in August 2005, ruling that Kreutzer's defense attorney was ineffective and that the military judge handling the trial erred in denying mitigating testimony.

In a hearing Wednesday to review motions before a retrial scheduled for April, the military attorneys appointed to represent Kreutzer asked that the charge of premeditated murder be dismissed.

Maj. Eric Carpenter, his lead attorney, said Kreutzer was severely depressed to the point of being suicidal and expected military police to shoot him in response to the ambush. Civilian law enforcement agencies refer to such behavior as "suicide by cop." Kreutzer knew his actions could be deadly, but didn't intend to kill someone, and he is guilty only of wanton disregard murder, Carpenter said.

The lawyers also asked that a positron emission topography, or PET, test be done on Kreutzer’s brain to determine if he has an organic brain disorder. They also want a specialist assigned to the defense team to evaluate the results of the PET test.

The defense lawyers also wants the government to provide them a death penalty mitigation expert, arguing that the prosecution has more qualified experts than the defense,and they are asking for an experienced investigator to help interview witnesses in the case. The military investigator assigned to the case is inexperienced, the lawyers said.

Another motion seeks to protect the woods near Towle Stadium, which are being cleared to make room for a multimillion-dollar construction project for new barracks. The defense also wants a forensic expert to explain the crime scene, which they said wasn't done in the first trial.

Col. Patrick Parrish, who is handling the death penalty case, didn't rule on any of the motions.


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  • richard2 Sep 21, 2007

    Only a lawyer could come up with this. Why didn't he just shoot himself in the head and not kill anybody else?

  • newborn _may18 Sep 20, 2007

    If he wanted to die, why are we having a second trial to overturn his death penalty conviction?

  • Aries82 Sep 20, 2007

    I guess his aim was to wound the soldiers, and not to kill anyone. He must have jerked one off, or flinched and the officer died. This guy was an infantryman. He wounded like 18, didn't he?

  • parr4246 Sep 20, 2007

    Jakkal................ I was thinking the same thing....!!!

  • independent-opinion Sep 20, 2007

    Why waste time and $ on a trial. If he wanted to die because he couldn't hang with the big dogs, wanted to be shot because he was inadequate, let him redeem himself. Call him back to active duty, give him back his gun and airdrop him all by his lonesome over the Paki/Afgan border with orders not to return without Bin Laden himself. If he makes it we'll talk. Killed--oh well. Captured-- they will only do to him what we'd like to but our laws will not allow. Rescue-- not part of the bargan.

  • jailorjoe1978 Sep 20, 2007

    sure he wanted to die... but he did not just want "suicide by MP" he wanted murder/suicide. he hated the world and wanted to take as many people with him as he could. I am sure he expected to be shot...but if all you want is for the police to shoot you, then just put a round in the radiator of an MP's hummer and see how easy it is. Do i think he should live? Sure i do, he should live as long as he can without food, water, and oxygen. I say good ole concrete boots.

  • Wheelerx5__Ready for Football Sep 19, 2007

    WHAT? Are you kidding me? Come on WRAL...you're joking, right?
    "Kreutzer knew his actions could be deadly, but didn't intend to kill someone, and he is guilty only of wanton disregard murder." What is wanton disregard murder??? WHAT??? Can I do that to my husband's ex-wife's husband? NOOOOO. You just have to deal with it until you go to court again. Wanton disregard murder. What else will this country come up with? I've never heard that phrase before.

  • oldschool Sep 19, 2007

    "Kreutzer was severely depressed to the point of being suicidal and expected military police to shoot him in response to the ambush."

    Where's the Make-a-Wish Foundation when you really need them?

  • Drifter Sep 19, 2007

    Wow, he's a really awful shot if he was trying to commit suicide :P

  • colliedave Sep 19, 2007

    Immediately after the 1st verdict he should have been marched out of the court room, lined up against a wall and executed by a firing squad then and there!