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Soldier admits role in comrad's suicide

Aug. 13, 2012 at 10:12 PM

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C., Aug. 13 (UPI) -- A U.S. Army soldier pleaded guilty Monday in the hazing-related suicide of a fellow soldier and was sentenced to six months in prison.

Spc. Ryan Offutt also will be demoted to private and receive a bad conduct discharge after pleading guilty to one count of hazing and two maltreatment counts as he was about to face a court-martial at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, The Fayetteville Observer reported.

As part of his plea agreement in which other charges were dropped, Offutt promised to testify against six other soldiers from Fort Wainwright, Alaska, facing charges in the death of Pvt. Danny Chen of New York, who fatally shot himself Oct. 3 in a guard tower near Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Army officials contend the 19-year-old Chen was driven to suicide after enduring racial taunts and physical abuse from other soldiers, the newspaper said.

Sgt. Adam Holcomb was convicted of mistreating Chen in the days before his suicide.

Offutt is the second soldier to be found guilty in the case. Last month, Sgt. Adam Holcomb was convicted of mistreating Chen days before Chen's suicide.

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