FORT HOOD, Texas – An Army officer is headed for a military trial on charges of lying to investigators about when he last spoke with a soldier who disappeared during a training exercise and later died, his attorney said Saturday.
Master Sgt. Terry Peggins was charged last fall with four counts of making false official statements, and the military decided last week that he would face a court-martial, said attorney John Galligan.
Galligan said Peggins, who has served more than 20 years in the military, had hoped he could retire but the Army is trying to make a scapegoat out of him for an accidental death. Peggins was removed for cause from his position, he said.
Peggins is one of six leaders of Fort Hood's Noncommissioned Officers Academy disciplined in September, three months after Sgt. Lawrence Sprader, 24, went missing during a solo navigation exercise and was later found dead. Sprader, who had been in good health and served two tours in Iraq, died from dehydration and hyperthermia, an autopsy found.
Galligan said Peggins is innocent of the charges, which were filed after the military obtained the soldier's cell-phone records from the day he was lost on the training course.
It was not immediately clear what Peggins had told investigators, or what the military learned from the records.
"There's no intent to deceive here," Galligan said. "Sgt. Peggins is a leader — not a liar."
If convicted, Peggins faces a maximum penalty of a bad conduct discharge and one year in military jail.
Fort Hood officials didn't immediately return a phone call from The Associated Press.