State News

Bragg soldier gets nine months in prison for medic's death

Posted March 10, 2012 5:19 p.m. EST
Updated March 11, 2012 7:52 a.m. EDT

— A Fort Bragg solider who fatally stabbed a combat medic from Virginia while horsing around in a tent in Iraq has been sentenced to nine months in prison, demoted to private and given a bad conduct discharge.

The Fayetteville Observer reports (http://bit.ly/ArOnhS) that Spc. Nicholas Bailey, 24, was hoping to avoid prison by taking a plea deal Friday in the July 2010 death of Spc. Morganne McBeth, 19, of Fredericksburg, Va., at Al Asad Air Base in Iraq.

Authorities said Bailey was yelling and stabbing a poster when he accidentally cut McBeth, who was standing behind him.

Bailey apologized to McBeth's family, and McBeth's mother asked the military judge not to sentence Bailey to prison because it would destroy two families.

Bailey had faced charges of negligent homicide, involuntary manslaughter, conspiring to obstruct justice and giving false statements.

A co-defendant, then-Spec. Tyler Cain, was found guilty in April last year of conspiring to obstruct justice and two counts of giving false statements. He was sentenced to 45 days of confinement and demoted to private.

The Army initially investigated McBeth's death as an accident, but investigators started treating the case as homicide because they didn't believe statements they had been given by Bailey and Cain, according to Criminal Investigative Command.

Prosecutors said Cain claimed in three statements that Bailey stabbed a poster on a wall with his knife and had to use a lot of force to get it out of the wall. When the knife finally broke free, it struck McBeth, who had just walked behind him, according to his statements.

In a fourth statement, Cain changed his story, saying that Bailey had been wildly flailing the knife around, struck the wall and then accidentally stabbed McBeth when he turned around, according to prosecutors.

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Information from: The Fayetteville Observer