May 25, 2011 3:49 PM by Gene Cotton

US soldier gets 12 years in detainee death

FORT CARSON, Colo. (AP) - A U.S. soldier with mental health problems has been sentenced to 12 ½ years in military prison after pleading guilty to killing a suspected Taliban prisoner in his jail cell.

Pfc. David Lawrence pleaded guilty to premeditated murder in a military court at Fort Carson in Colorado Wednesday. The judge told him he would be dishonorably discharged and be demoted by one rank.

The extent of Lawrence's mental problems aren't clear. Army doctors found in January that he had schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder but his lawyer, James Culp, said a later evaluation found no severe mental illness.

Lawrence could have faced up to life in prison. Culp said the Army decided against pursuing the death penalty.

Prosecutors say Lawrence shot the prisoner as he was sleeping or resting. Lawrence disputed that account.



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