Non-capital referral recommended in Russell

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:  Judge (COL) Pohl has recommended a non-capital referral in United States v. Russell.

An Army sergeant accused of killing four fellow soldiers and a Navy officer at a mental health clinic on a military base in Iraq two years ago should be tried for murder but should not face the possibility of execution because he suffers from serious mental illness, a military judge recommended.

Sgt. John Russell, who opened fire at the combat stress center at Camp Liberty near Baghdad in May 2009, should be held accountable for his actions and face a court martial on the five counts of premeditated murder he faces, Col. James Pohl wrote in his recommendations issued Friday.

"However, in my opinion, the accused (sic) undisputed mental disease or defect make the death penalty inappropriate in this case," wrote Pohl, who presided over a four-day preliminary hearing in August at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.

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