Soldier discharged after slaying
The Army rules that evidence does not warrant a trial in the death of an Iraqi girl
The Army has allowed a Schofield Barracks sergeant to be discharged without any charges in the shooting death of a 13-year-old Iraqi girl and the wounding of her mother and sister in February 2004.
Last May, the Army opened an investigation into the Feb. 18, 2004, shooting incident involving Sgt. Jeffrey D. Waruch, 28 -- a member of the 25th Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment.
The three females were weeding about a half-mile from an explosion that hit an Army convoy on its way to Ai Abbassi. It was one of the first combat actions for the 25th Division.
The Army said yesterday that Waruch left the military Jan. 27 under a "voluntary discharge for completion of service obligation."
"In this case a review of the investigation determined that no further evidence was likely to be found that would result in the case going to trial," said Stephanie Gardin, Army spokeswoman, last night.
"The results of the criminal investigation found that Waruch did not act in a negligent or unlawful manner and that there was insufficient evidence in order to prosecute."
Although Waruch was allowed to leave the service, the Army added that "if additional evidence comes to light, Waruch can be tried by the Department of Justice under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act."
Also part of the investigation was Sgt. Steven Sands, who also was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry. However, the Army discharged Sands last year without charging him.
The Dayton Daily News said yesterday that family members of the slain girl were contacted by military criminal investigators three days before Waruch was discharged and met with them on Feb. 2. The mother, who lost her left leg, was ill and did not meet with the Army. However, the newspaper said her two sons were interviewed. The newspaper also said the mother and her surviving daughter were shot in the back.
Waruch also was in another shooting incident 10 days later where Pfc. Edward Richmond Jr. shot Muhamad Husain Kadir, a cowherd, in the back of the head after the man "stumbled" into Waruch following a struggle.
Initially, Sgt. Steven Sands of the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry, also was part of the inquiry, but he was discharged and never charged.
The only soldier convicted in the shooting was Richmond, of Gonzales, La., who said that he was simply following the orders of his unit commander, Waruch.
He is serving a three-year prison sentence at a military stockade in Fort Sill, Okla., after being convicted in August 2004 of voluntary manslaughter. Richmond also was dishonorably discharged from the Army.
Last year, he appealed his conviction to the Army Court of Criminal Appeals in Arlington, Va.
His father, Ed Richmond, said last night that a clemency hearing is scheduled for April 6.
Charles Gittins, Richmond's attorney, has said his client was simply following the orders of his unit commander, who Richmond believed to be in danger.
Waruch was the prosecution's chief witness at Richmond's court-martial.
Gittins, the newspaper said, tried to establish at the court-martial that Waruch had every reason to lie about what happened since he was under a cloud of suspicion at the time for shooting three civilians 10 days earlier.