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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, June 18, 2004

Schofield soldier faces court-martial for Iraqi death

By Peter Boylan
Advertiser Staff Writer

An Army general has determined that Pfc. Edward L. Richmond Jr., a Schofield Barracks soldier charged with murder in the shooting death of an Iraqi civilian, will be court-martialed for the offense.

If convicted, Richmond, 20, faces a maximum penalty of death or a mandatory minimum of life in prison with the possibility for parole. If sentenced to death he would become the seventh soldier on the military's death row.

Richmond is accused of shooting Muhamad Husain Kadir, a cowherder, with a rifle near Taal Al Jal, Iraq, in February. The native of Gonzales, La., is assigned to headquarters company, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry regiment.

The Army said Richmond is the third U.S. soldier to be court-martialed on a murder charge in the current Iraq war.

"There have been relatively few number of cases where specifically servicemen were charged and court-martialed for murder," said Marine Corps Capt. Bruce Frame, a U.S. Central Command spokesman in Tampa.

A court-martial is a military criminal trial court. The merits of the case will be debated openly, and a court-martial panel, the military equivalent of a jury, will decide Richmond's fate. No date has been given for the start of the proceedings.

In making his decision Maj. Gen. John R.S. Batiste acted on a recommendation made by an Army investigator and evidence provided by Richmond's attorney.

Richmond will be tried on a charge of unpremeditated murder. He was charged with the offense on April 8.

On May 1, Richmond's attorney, Capt. Jennifer Crawford, was granted a delay in the case to gather more evidence and conduct an administrative board, which is routinely held in the military to review training records, personnel records, medical records and a soldier's potential for promotion.

The results of the board were forwarded to Batiste and were used in his decision.

The Army would not disclose details about how the shooting occurred.

On Feb. 28, 1-27 soldiers were conducting a morning search for known terrorists in Taal Al Jal, near Al Huwijah — a city of more than 85,000 people, mostly Sunni Muslims — about 40 miles southwest of Kirkuk.

According to reports, the middle-age Iraqi man was running and "resisting apprehension," but the Army did not elaborate.

The Army's case against Richmond was based largely on the claim that Kadir was flex-cuffed at the time he was shot.

Richmond had his weapons confiscated and is suspended from active duty but is not being detained, said his father, Edward Richmond Sr. He said his son is at the Kirkuk Air Base, and that his son told him that he was following the Army's rules of engagement when the incident happened.

His son was attending Louisiana State University before he dropped out and joined the Army.

"Reality is setting in about what is going on. He feels confident that he would be all right through the whole thing," the father said earlier.

Reach Peter Boylan at 535-8110 or pboylan@honoluluadvertiser.com.