22 October 2009

Camp Liberty Soldier Accused of Killing Five Fellow Soldiers Likely to Face Court-Martial

Sergeant John M. Russell, a 44-year-old radio communications specialist, is charged with premeditated murder and aggravated assault. However, his court-martial is temporarily on hold until he is determined mentally capable of assisting in his own defense. Until that time, Russell is confined at the Butner Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina.

Earlier, Russell was assessed by a panel of doctors, found to be incapable of assisting in his own defense. As a result of this determination, his court-martial was placed on hold and he was confined in the Butner Federal Medical Center. Under Rule for Court-Martial 909, Russell may not be brought to trial by court-martial if he is presently suffering from a mental disease or defect that renders him mentally incompetent to the extent that he cannot understand the nature of the proceeding or cooperate intelligently in his defense. The rule requires Russell to be hospitalized for a period not exceeding four months, unless there is a substantial probability that he will attain the capacity to permit the trial to proceed in the foreseeable future. In such a situation, an additional reasonable period of time is permitted.

Once Russell is mentally cleared for trial, the Army will immediately proceed with its court-martial. However, if Russell is not mentally cleared for trial after a reasonable period of time, he will be subject to indefinite hospitalization under federal law. For more information see the following news article. Associated Press Article

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