Sergeant held at JBLM charged in 2009 Iraq soldier deaths

Sergeant held at JBLM charged in 2009 Iraq soldier deaths

Credit: US Army / Associated Press

Sgt. John Russell

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on May 18, 2012 at 11:04 AM

Updated Friday, May 18 at 2:53 PM

A U.S. Army sergeant who served in Iraq under the command of a Joint Base Lewis-McChord unit has been charged with five counts of premeditated murder for allegedly shooting fellow soldiers in Iraq three years ago.

Sgt. John Russell is also charged with one count of attempted murder and one count of aggravated assault.

The shooting happened May 11, 2009 at Camp Liberty Combat Stress Center in Iraq. In the days after the shooting, the Army said Russell had been referred to the military counseling clinic by his superiors, presumably because of concern over his mental state.

Russell’s weapon allegedly had been taken away, but somehow he got a new gun, entered the clinic and opened fire.

Killed in the shooting were Navy Cmdr. Charles Springle, 52, of Wilmington, N.C., and four Army members: Pfc. Michael Edward Yates Jr., 19, of Federalsburg, Md.; Dr. Matthew Houseal, of Amarillo, Texas; Sgt. Christian E. Bueno-Galdos, 25, of Paterson, N.J.; and Spc. Jacob D. Barton, 20, of Lenox, Mo.

Russell was on his third tour of duty in Iraq, according to his service record. He was due to go home three weeks after the shooting.

Sgt. Russell was never assigned to JBLM, but while he was in Iraq, his Germany-based unit was assigned to a unit from JBLM. He is now confined at JBLM and that is where the court martial will be held.

If convicted of murder, Russell could face the death penalty, although a military judge in 2009 recommended no death sentence for Russell due to mental illness.

In another high profile murder case, Sgt. Robert Bales from JBLM is charged with killing 17 civilians in Afghanistan March 11.

Story includes archive information from The Associated Press, compiled by KING 5's Travis Pittman

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