APNewsBreak: No death penalty in '09 Iraq deaths

September 19, 2011 - 10:25 AM

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A military judge has recommended that an Army sergeant accused of killing U.S. military personnel at a mental health clinic on a base in Iraq should not face a possible death sentence because he is mentally ill.

Col. James Pohl said in his recommendation issued Friday that Sgt. John Russell's serious mental illness makes execution an inappropriate punishment.

Russell is charged with opening fire in May 2009 at a combat stress center at Camp Liberty near Baghdad, killing four soldiers and a Navy officer. Russell had received counseling at the center before the shootings after expressing that he was considering harming himself.

Pohl recommended Russell still face court martial on five counts of premeditated murder.

An Army general will decide whether to accept Pohl's recommendation or not.