KILLEEN, Texas -- A Fort Hood soldier convicted of robbing and murdering two cab drivers was sentenced to death in an Army court-martial.
If executed, Army Pvt. Dwight Jeffrey Loving, 20, of Rochester, N.Y., would become the first person put to death by the Army in more than 25 years, a Fort Hood spokesman said.
The eight-member tribunal deliberated about five hours before returning the unanimous verdict on the death sentence Monday.
Loving, who also was convicted of robbing a third cab driver, showed no emotion when the judge, Army Lt. Col. Stephen Faynisch, announced the sentence but relatives of the two cab drivers, Army Pvt. Christopher Fay, 20, and Bobby Gene Sharbino, 44, both of Killeen, gasped and cried at the announcement.
Before returning Loving to an Army stockade, Faynisch told him: 'I hope God has mercy on you for what you did to those three people.'
Loving was convicted last week of killing Fay and Sharbino on Dec. 12. Testimony showed the defendant held up two convenience stores during a robbery spree and held a gun to the head of a third cab driver before the driver struggled free and escaped.
Loving told the court-martial he needed money for his girlfriend. The woman, however, testified she never asked Loving for money.
According to an Army spokesman at the Pentagon, Army Pvt.John Bennett was the last military person executed in the United States.He was hanged at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., on April 13, 1961, for rape. Military executions are now carried out by lethal injection.
The court-martial verdict will be reviewed by the judge advocate of the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood and the division's commanding general. If upheld, it is appealed automatically to the Army Court of Military Review, the Army Court of Military Appeals and, if necessary, the Supreme Court and the president, who would have final say on clemency.
Each appeal court has the right to reduce the sentence.