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US National Gaurd pleads guilty

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Jamal View Drop Down

Joined: 06 June 2005
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    Posted: 25 July 2005 at 1:23pm

How can he plead guilty to negligent homicide when he admits to killing the officer with no provokation. The key word here is killing which meant that he meant to do it. He even shot himself to try to cover it up. How can he plead to a lesser charge? 9990001

FORT KNOX, Ky. (July 25) - An Indiana national guardsman charged with murder in the death of an Iraqi police officer pleaded guilty Monday to a lesser charge of negligent homicide.

Cpl. Dustin Berg, 22, testified that he felt he did not properly assess the threat that he faced and acted rashly in the November 2003 incident.

"I shouldn't have automatically considered him a threat," Berg said. "I misread the situation."

Berg also admitted Monday to shooting himself on purpose in an attempt to make it appear he was defending himself against the officer.

"I didn't know what to do. I thought I might come under investigation for murder or something I was guilty of doing," he said. "I shot myself on purpose."

He also pleaded guilty to three counts of making false statements.

Lt. Col. Richard Anderson, the military judge overseeing Berg's case, said Berg faces a total of up to 14 years in prison and dishonorable discharge. A sentencing hearing began after he pleaded guilty Monday.

Berg changed his story multiple times for investigators, initially saying the Iraqi police officer pointed an AK-47 rifle at him to prevent Berg from reporting insurgent activity. On Monday, however, Berg said that Iraqi police officers as a matter of habit carried their guns with the barrels pointed slightly upward.

Anderson asked Berg if he believed he was acting in self-defense.

"No, your honor. I didn't have a reasonable belief that the (officer) was going to kill me."

The Army has conducted at least a dozen court-martials of U.S. troops accused in the deaths of Iraqi civilians.

Berg was serving in Iraq with the Jasper, Ind.-based 1st Battalion, 152nd Infantry Regiment. He was awarded a Purple Heart during a ceremony when he returned from Iraq in February 2004, but the Army later said Berg shot himself.

07-25-05 11:48 EDT

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