US soldier found not guilty in contractor death

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — A court-martialed U.S. soldier has been found not guilty by reason of lack of mental responsibility in the killing of a civilian contractor in Iraq, military officials said Saturday.

Pfc. Carl T. Stovall had pleaded not guilty in the March 2009 shooting of Hungarian laborer Tibor Bogdan near Camp Taji, just north of Baghdad. Bogdan was shot while digging a hole at the camp.

The shooting came less than a month into Stovall’s third deployment to the Middle East.

He opted to be tried by a military judge at Fort Hood instead of a jury. Testimony was heard this past week.

In a statement Saturday, officials with the military post said the court ordered Stovall to receive a psychiatric/psychological evaluation before a post-trial hearing is conducted on Nov. 10. Stovall faced a maximum sentence of life without the possibility of parole.

Stovall had allegedly once told investigators he believed Bogdan, who worked for a contractor specializing in trash and waste removal, was a terrorist planting a roadside bomb. Prosecutors, however, said Stovall, now 28, has changed his story multiple times, allegedly denying any involvement in one version.

An Army psychiatrist, Col. David M. Benedek, testified Wednesday at the Fort Hood court-martial that Stovall is a paranoid schizophrenic and “not mentally responsible” for the close-range shooting.

Stovall has a history of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, in addition to drug and alcohol abuse. Benedek said the Georgia native also suffered a brain injury following a car accident in high school.

An Army squad leader, Sgt. David Salas, testified that Stovall continued to drink after a stint in a rehabilitation program and that his moods were unpredictable. Salas said he repeatedly prepared documents to initiate Stovall’s discharge from the Army, but his command was not receptive.

Stovall had been deployed with the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division.

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