Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Army Private Pleads Guilty in Case involving Death of Taliban Commander

Denverpost.com reports that PFC David Lawrence pleaded guilty to murdering Taliban Commander Mullah Mohebullah back on October 17, 2010. Lawrence stated point-blank to the judge that he planned the murder, and simply “went into the cell and…shot him in the face.” He felt that in doing so, he avenged the death of his chaplain and six others who had died the week before the murder. His plea was accepted and he was sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole along with a dishonorable discharge at the grade of E-1.

Lawrence himself expressed disappointment in his actions; how he dishonored his religion, his country, and his family. Those in court said that he went against all American military values, that his actions exemplified “dishonor…betrayal…cowardice…[cold-bloodedness].” His defense attorney asked for mercy, holding that he joined for the right reasons, but while deployed, he confronted “a faceless enemy, [one] which killed indiscriminately” and “for the first time [that day], the Taliban had a face.”

Psychiatrists deemed Lawrence unable to appreciate the wrongfulness of his actions, finding that he suffered from PTSD and schizophrenia the day of the murder. Despite this evidence and the pleas of his attorney, successive hearing officers found no grounds “to believe that the accused was not mentally responsible for the offense” or “not competent to participate in the defense.” Charges were preferred in accordance with these decisions.

(Credit: Richard Weiland)