Soldier gets life sentence in Bragg shooting rampage
Posted March 24, 2009 5:13 a.m. EDT
Updated March 24, 2009 6:25 p.m. EDT
FORT BRAGG, N.C. — A former paratrooper who admitted firing at an exercise formation of fellow soldiers more than 13 years ago was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison.
Col. Patrick Parrish also issued Sgt. William J. Kreutzer Jr. a dishonorable discharge, reduced his rank to private and ordered that he forfeit all military benefits for the October 1995 attack on Fort Bragg.
Kreutzer, 39, of Clinton, Md., pleaded guilty two weeks ago 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.
Parrish upgraded the aggravated assault charges to 16 counts of attempted murder after hearing testimony last week that Kreutzer planned to ambush his unit.
The charges stem from the Oct. 27, 1995, shooting of members of the 82nd Airborne Division's 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment 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.
During a sentencing hearing Tuesday, Badger's widow, Diane Badger, testified that he was a "kind and gentle man" who loved his four children "more than anything in the world."
Some of Badger's children, now grown, also testified, saying their father missed out on weddings and the birth of his grandchildren.
Christina Griffith, the wife of another soldier shot in the ambush, described Kreutzer's actions as "cowardly and calculating."
One of Kreutzer's defense attorneys read a statement in court in which Kreutzer apologized for the shooting rampage.
"Not a day goes by that I am not reminded of the damage I caused. My fate is to live with that torment for the rest of my days," Kreutzer said in the statement. "I have been forgiven by Jesus Christ for my sins. Though he has forgiven me, I should have no expectation of forgiveness or benevolence from any of you for what I have done.
"I have not, and will not, forget those that I have hurt."
Diane Badger said after the court hearing that she felt Kreutzer's statement was sincere and that she already has forgiven him.
In exchange for the guilty pleas, military prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty against Kreutzer. He faced an automatic life sentence, but defense attorney Capt. Joseph Venghaus argued that "unusually harsh conditions" at a Camp Lejeune jail where he has been held should have shaved decades off his sentence.
Kreutzer should get credited five to 10 days for every day he has served in confinement, Venghaus told Parrish. That would have amounted to more than 33,000 days, or about 90 years.
Kreutzer was convicted and sentenced to death in 1996, but a military appeals court overturned the sentence, saying his defense lawyers were ineffective.