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Texas soldier faces NC court-martial in death

  Military Law  -   POSTED: 2012/08/16 15:25

A platoon sergeant from Texas faces court-martial at Fort Bragg this week in the death of a New York soldier in Afghanistan last year.

The Fayetteville Observer reported that Staff Sgt. Blaine G. Dugas Jr. of Port Arthur, Texas, is scheduled to face a court-martial Thursday.

The 36-year-old Dugas is accused of failure to prevent the mistreatment and abuse that officials say led to 19-year-old Pvt. Danny Chen's suicide.

Chen shot himself in a guard tower at a small outpost in Afghanistan. He was called names while in training, then was subjected to hazing after he was deployed to Afghanistan, his family has said.

On the day of Chen's death, he was forced to crawl about 100 yards across gravel carrying his equipment while his fellow soldiers threw rocks at him, the family said.

Defense attorney Guy Womack says Dugas had no knowledge of the hazing and mistreatment of Chen, who shot himself on Oct. 3.

"Staff Sgt. Dugas is an outstanding soldier and an outstanding leader," Womack said. "If he had learned about it, he would have stopped it."

Dugas is accused of failing to "foster a climate in which everyone is treated with dignity and respect, regardless of race," according to court documents.

Two other soldiers have been tried in Chen's death.

Spc. Ryan J. Offutt of Greenville, Pa., was sentenced to six months in prison, demotion to private and a bad conduct discharge following a plea agreement.

Sgt. Adam Holcomb of Youngstown, Ohio, was sentenced to 30 days in prison and the loss of one rank.

All of the defendants were members of the 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division based at Fort Wainwright, Alaska.

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