FORT BRAGG, N.C. — A military judge on Tuesday upgraded charges against a former Fort Bragg soldier who has pleaded guilty to opening fire on his own unit in 1995.
Sgt. William J. Kreutzer Jr. pleaded guilty last Wednesday to one count each of premeditated murder, attempted premeditated murder and aggravated assault with a means likely to inflict grievous bodily injury and to 16 counts of aggravated assault with intent to inflict grievous bodily injury.
In exchange for the pleas, military prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty against Kreutzer.
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. Maj. Stephen Badger, an intelligence officer in the 82nd Airborne Division’s 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, was killed in the rampage, and 18 other soldiers were wounded.
Kreutzer is scheduled for sentencing next week, but prosecutors first tried to persuade Col. Patrick Parrish, the military judge handling the case, to change the 16 aggravated assault charges to attempted murder.
"He did not go there to wound. He went there to kill," prosecutor Capt. David Krynicki said. "He came with enough ammunition to kill hundreds."
Defense attorney Maj. Eric Carpenter told Parrish that Kreutzer had to be determined to kill the soldiers in order to be charged with attempted murder.
"He didn't care one way or another whether they died," Carpenter argued.
Several soldiers who were in Kreutzer's unit testified Tuesday that he had made threats to carry out mass killings of soldiers.
One said Kreutzer spoke more than once about wanting to drive down a street on Fort Bragg and open fire with machine guns mounted on his vehicle. Another said Kreutzer would talk about how easy it would be fire on troop formations and "take soldiers out."
The soldiers described Kreutzer as an expert marksman and weapons enthusiast, but said other soldiers would often tease him, calling him "Wild Bill" and "Crazy Kreutzer."
Jerry Hoyler, a third former comrade of Kreutzer, said he received several letters Kreutzer wrote from jail after the shooting rampage, including one entitled "Bill's Kampf" that mimicked Hitler's "Mein Kampf" manifesto.
"He wasn't happy with our (military) leadership at all," Hoyler testified, noting the letter described "the tyranny of leadership in the military (and) his dissatisfaction with the leadership."
Kreutzer was sentenced to death in a 1996 court-martial, but a military appeals court overturned the conviction in 2005, ruling that his previous lawyers were ineffective.