LOUD & CLEAR: Hazing, Racial Taunts, Acceptable Army “Training” Tools; Jury Acquits NCO in Chen Suicide

A 10-member Army jury acquitted Sgt. Adam M. Holcomb, 30, of negligent homicide, hazing and several other charges at a court-martial July 30 at Fort Bragg, N.C. Witnesses said Holcomb, a father of three from Youngstown, Ohio, repeatedly abused Pvt. Danny Chen, 19, physically and mentally because Chen was a weak soldier prone to mistakes; but that such treatment is commonly practiced by leaders as “corrective training” to make substandard soldiers better. Chen shot himself to death Oct. 3 inside a guard tower at a remote combat outpost in Afghanistan after he was hazed by senior soldiers who called him “gook” and “chink” and made him crawl while pelting him with stones, military prosecutors said. (NY Daily News)

Sergeant Acquitted of Driving a Suicide

by Kirk Semple

New York Times, July 30, 2012

FORT BRAGG, N.C. — A military jury on Monday acquitted a sergeant on the most serious charges in the death of Pvt. Danny Chen, a Chinese-American from Manhattan who killed himself last year while deployed in Afghanistan, but found him guilty on lesser charges.

The jury determined that the sergeant, Adam M. Holcomb, was not guilty of negligent homicide, reckless endangerment, communicating a threat and hazing.

Sergeant Holcomb was convicted on two counts of maltreatment and one count of assault consummated by battery.

Prosecutors had sought to convince the jury that Sergeant Holcomb’s treatment of Private Chen, which the prosecutors said included hazing and racial taunts, led directly to his suicide.

The 10-member jury of Army officers and enlisted soldiers reached its verdict after about two hours of deliberations on Monday afternoon.

Pvt. Danny Chen

The court-martial began last Tuesday.

Sergeant Holcomb was one of eight soldiers charged in the case and the first to be tried.

After the verdict was announced, the court-martial moved into the sentencing phase. The jury heard arguments from both sides and was expected to begin sentencing deliberations on Tuesday. He faces up to two years in prison, officials said.

In testimony during the sentencing hearing, Sergeant Holcomb apologized and said he was suffering from symptoms that resembled post-traumatic stress disorder after three deployments to war zones.

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