Isle airman admits to shooting
Kyle Dalton faces 12 years in prison for killing a fellow Air Force member
HAMPTON, Va. » 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 Ware Jr. had been in Iraq for a month when Kyle Dalton shot him in the chest on July 1. They were both based out of Hickam Air Force Base.
Dalton told the judge at his court-martial that he had not 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 have since been promoted to senior airman, Ware posthumously.
Dalton told the judge, Col. Thomas 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.
The 22-year-old Ware, of Glassboro, N.J., lost a lot of blood and probably died within minutes, according to the medical examiner's report. The bullet hit him in the upper right chest, piercing his lungs and heart before exiting below his left armpit.
Two other airmen who lived with Ware and Dalton in Iraq and a third who lived nearby testified that they have been angry and depressed since the shooting and have had recurring nightmares.
"I lost a potential best friend," Airman 1st Class Ryan Gasper said.
More witnesses, including Ware's widow and parents, were expected to testify today as the sentencing phase of the trial continues.
The Air Force decided to hold the court-martial at Langley Air Force Base because of the convenience for witnesses and family, said Maj. Ralph Paradiso, a service spokesman.
The Air Force declined to release Dalton's age and hometown, citing privacy regulations.