Plea deal sought by U.S. soldier accused in Iraq killings: lawyer

SEATTLE Tue Apr 16, 2013 6:12pm EDT

Wilburn Russell, 73, displays a portrait of his son, Sergeant John M. Russell, the Army sergeant who is accused of killing five fellow soldiers in Iraq, outside of his son's home in Sherman, Texas May 12, 2009. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

Wilburn Russell, 73, displays a portrait of his son, Sergeant John M. Russell, the Army sergeant who is accused of killing five fellow soldiers in Iraq, outside of his son's home in Sherman, Texas May 12, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi

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SEATTLE (Reuters) - A U.S. soldier charged with killing five fellow servicemen in 2009 at a military counseling center in Iraq is seeking a plea deal with Army prosecutors that would spare him from facing the death penalty, his lawyer told Reuters on Tuesday.

Army Sergeant John Russell faces five charges of premeditated murder, one charge of aggravated assault and one charge of attempted murder in the shootings that killed two medical staff officers and three soldiers at Camp Liberty, near Baghdad airport.

Under negotiation was a possible deal in which military prosecutors would not seek the death penalty and Russell would plead guilty to murder, civilian defense attorney James Culp said.

"The pretrial agreement that we are working through would have John plead guilty to murder two, intentional murder, where John takes responsibility for the intentional killing of five people," he told Reuters.

(Reporting by Eric Johnson; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Bob Burgdorfer)

(This story was refiled to add dropped first reference to the accused gunman in the second paragraph)

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