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A Hawaii-based Air Force enlisted man avoided a possible life sentence by pleading guilty yesterday to involuntary manslaughter for shooting a fellow airman while in their living quarters in Iraq. Carl J. Ware Jr. had been in Iraq for a month when Kyle J. Dalton shot him in the chest on July 1, 2006. They were both based out of Hickam Air Force Base. Ware's death was the first for Hickam personnel in Iraq.

Dalton told the judge at his court-martial that he hadn't thought his 9 mm pistol was loaded when he pointed it, playfully, at his bunkmate and pulled the trigger.

Dalton also pleaded guilty to violating a general regulation by drawing or aiming a firearm when deadly force was not necessary — once when he shot Ware and once earlier when he aimed an M4 rifle at Ware and another roommate, also while in their quarters.

He faces a maximum punishment of 12 years in prison, dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, a fine and reduction in rank.

Under a plea agreement, Air Force prosecutors dropped charges of murder, which carried a maximum punishment of life in prison, and assault.

Ware and Dalton were part of the 886th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron at Camp Bucca, where they guarded detainees. Both men held the rank of airman first class at the time of the shooting, and both since have been promoted to senior airman, Ware posthumously.

Dalton told the judge, Col. Thomas W. Cumbie, that when Ware walked into their room shortly after noon on July 1, a day off, Dalton held his pistol at chest level with both hands and tracked Ware as Ware walked across the room.

"I was tapping on the trigger, sir," Dalton told the judge. "I had seen others doing it, playing with each other."

He pulled back the slide and squeezed the trigger, and the gun went off. Dalton and another roommate ran out of the room to get help and when they returned, Dalton froze for a second.

"Then I ran to Airman Ware's side, grabbed onto him and said that I was sorry and not to die on me," Dalton said as Ware's widow, Christine Ware, cried in the courtroom at Langley Air Force Base. Christine Ware previously was a senior airman also stationed at Hickam.


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