HONOLULU – A U.S. soldier who shot a handcuffed Iraqi cowherd in the back of the head has been convicted in Iraq of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to three years in prison.
Pfc. Edward Richmond (search), convicted Thursday, also was given a dishonorable discharge from the Army, according to the Army.
Richmond, 20, of Gonzales, La., had initially been charged with unpremeditated murder, which carries a maximum life sentence, for shooting the man on Feb. 28 near Taal Al Jai.
An Army court-martial panel in Tikrit made up of five officers and five enlisted soldiers reduced the charge to voluntary manslaughter and returned the sentence, which also reduces Richmond's rank to private and calls for forfeiture of all pay and allowances.
Sgt. Jeffrey Waruch testified Wednesday that he and Richmond were ordered to detain all Iraqi males in the village following a raid, and that the cowherd, Muhamad Husain Kadir, initially resisted when they tried to pull his hands behind his back, according to the Army statement, which was first reported by Honolulu newspapers.
Waruch said he led Kadir away after cuffing him. According to the Army, Richmond shot Kadir in the back of the head from about six feet away after the man stumbled.
Richmond testified that he didn't know Kadir's hands were secured behind his back and said he thought the Iraqi would hurt the other soldier. But he admitted that he never saw Kadir with a weapon, the Army statement said.
In a June interview with The Honolulu Advertiser, Richmond said Kadir lunged at his partner.
"It was a reaction," Richmond said at the time. "I fired in self-defense of another soldier, in which deadly force is authorized."
Richmond, one of only a few U.S. soldiers to face court-martial on a murder charge in the Iraq war, is a member of Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, a unit of the 25th Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team, which left Hawaii in January for yearlong deployment to Iraq.
He will be taken to Kuwait before being transported to a military confinement facility.
Another U.S. soldier charged with killing an Iraqi, Capt. Rogelio M. Maynulet, is accused in the close-range killing of a wounded "unidentified paramilitary member" near Kufa, south of Baghdad. Maynulet, now at a U.S. base in Germany, has denied the charges.