Soldier pleads guilty to murder
June 2, 2011
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Pfc. David Lawrence, was convicted of premeditated murder May 25 during his court-martial for killing an Afghan detainee while on guard duty in Afghanistan.
Lawrence, 20, formerly assigned to 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, was sentenced to 12.5 years of confinement at the United States Disciplinary Barracks, Fort Leavenworth, Kan. With good behavior, Lawrence could be out in 10 years and is eligible for parole after four years. He was also demoted to private and dishonorably discharged from the Army.
“There is no justification for what I did … I knew what I was doing was wrong,” Lawrence said during his court-martial.
Lawrence, who deployed to Afghanistan in the summer, was assigned Oct. 17 to guard a detainee who had been brought to the forward operating base earlier that day.
“I was angry,” Lawrence replied when Col. Mark Bridges, the court-martial judge, asked why he wanted to kill the detainee. Lawrence said he killed the detainee because he was angry that an Army chaplain he had made friends with was killed by a roadside bomb.
Lawrence stood in the courtroom with his defense attorneys and pleaded guilty to premeditated murder. “I formulated a plan to kill the (detainee) … I knew what I was doing … I knew it was wrong,” he said.
Capt. Laura O’Donnell, 1st BCT, 4th Inf. Div., and James Culp represented Lawrence as his defense attorneys.
“For the first time on (Lawrence’s) deployment, the Taliban had a face,” Culp said. “We ask the court to be merciful.”
Bridges sentenced Lawrence to life in prison with the possibility for parole, demoted him to private and dishonorably discharged him from the Army.
Lawrence signed a plea agreement with Brig. Gen. James H. Doty, acting senior commander, 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson, prior to the court-martial that stated he would receive a reduced sentence if he pleaded guilty at the court-martial, said Maj. George Brauchler, the Army prosecutor.