Local News

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

Posted September 19, 2007 12:24 p.m. EDT
Updated September 21, 2007 2:47 p.m. EDT

— 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.