Army sergeant acquitted of negligent homicide in soldier's death
WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina |
WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina (Reuters) - A military jury found a U.S. Army sergeant not guilty on Monday of negligent homicide in the death of a Chinese-American soldier who officials say killed himself in Afghanistan after enduring hazing and racial slurs.
Sergeant Adam Holcomb, 30, was the first of eight soldiers to face a court-martial in connection with Private Danny Chen's death in October 2011.
The military panel that heard Holcomb's case in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, found him guilty of maltreatment and assault, but acquitted him of both negligent homicide and harassment, base spokesman Thomas McCollum said.
Holcomb was expected to be sentenced later on Monday.
Chen, 19, killed himself by gunshot in a guard tower in southern Afghanistan, where military prosecutors said the weeks of physical mistreatment and racial harassment he encountered from his superiors pushed him to take his own life.
Holcomb, who pleaded not guilty to all the charges, was accused of referring to Chen by racially derogatory names such as "dragon lady," "Jackie Chen" and "egg roll."
Danny Chen was born in New York and raised in the city by his Chinese immigrant parents.
According to testimony, Holcomb also caused injuries to Chen's back by dragging him across gravel after the lower-ranked soldier left a water pump on in a shower at their remote base in Afghanistan.
Holcomb's attorneys argued that Chen killed himself because he was struggling as an infantryman and had been disowned by his parents for joining the Army - an assertion Chen's mother and father denied from the witness stand last week.
(Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; editing by Cynthia Johnston and Mohammad Zargham)
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