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Defense: Soldier incompetent for trial in Bragg shootings

Posted March 4, 2009

— A former Fort Bragg soldier accused of opening fire on his own unit in 1995 is incompetent to stand trial, his attorney said Wednesday.

Sgt. William J. Kreutzer Jr. is charged with premeditated murder, 18 counts of attempted murder, violating a general order by transporting weapons on post and larceny of government property involving the theft of ammunition.

The charges stem from the Oct. 27, 1995, shooting of members of the 82nd Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade during their morning exercise at Towle Stadium on post. One paratrooper was killed and 18 others were wounded during the rampage.

Kreutzer was sentenced to death in a 1996 court-martial, but a military appeals court overturned the sentence in 2005, ruling his first lawyers were ineffective.

During a Wednesday hearing to prepare for Kreutzer's retrial, defense attorney Maj. Eric Carpenter argued that Kreutzer isn't competent to stand trial because he won't be able to "testify appropriately."

Dr. Christopher Lange, a psychologist at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, testified for the defense that he tested Kreutzer last August and concluded he suffers from depression and a mental disorder called flat affect. Kreutzer lacks the ability to show emotions – he has a constant "bland look" – and would appear unremorseful to a jury, Lange said.

"He's not capable of showing he's remorseful, even if he is," he said.

Carpenter told the judge that the disorder could harm his case.

"One of the reasons panels decide to execute someone is because they show no remorse. It's one of the fundamental reasons for executing the accused," he said.

Col. Elspeth Ritchie, a forensic psychologist for the Army, said she conducted 10 hours of interviews with Kreutzer in December and deemed him competent to stand trial. She said his mental condition "does not render him out of touch with reality" and described him as having paranoid personality disorder and a low-grade depression.

Kreutzer has no cognitive impairment to inhibit his ability to answer questions, Ritchie said.

"He was able to smile and engage with us," she said. "He is able to relay an account of what happened ... It does not affect his ability to testify."

Col. Patrick Parrish, the military judge handling the case, is expected to rule on the matter within a few days.

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  • Bob3425 Mar 5, 2009

    He was competent enough to buy a gun, steal the ammunition, set up a sniper position. This is a joke, let him rot in prison.

  • bcarolinabreeze Mar 4, 2009

    Disgusting! Ironic that an organization as great as the 82nd Airborne fights to uphold such stupid "freedoms" as being let off the hook because you can't show remorse.

  • furburg Mar 4, 2009

    Flat affect? Suprised they didnt say he had PTSD thats a common military excuse these days.

  • smokeycurrin Mar 4, 2009

    Maybe he cannot show remorse because he has none.

  • mcarroll1974 Mar 4, 2009

    I was there that day. I personally don't care if he is remorseful or not, he should have been put to death that day. It disgusts me that he has the last 13 years to look back upon while the children of the person he killed has been without a father for all these years.

  • 68_polara Mar 4, 2009

    and What a horrible horrible joke! Is there any justice in this world today!

  • readme Mar 4, 2009

    I know someone who was there when it happened. Trust me, he deserves to pay for his crime. What I am reading here is a joke.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Mar 4, 2009

    He should be executed.

    Don't let the touchy feely psychobabble get him off from the crime he committed.