Iraq murder case goes on despite crash
Some of the Schofield Barracks soldiers who were killed when a Black Hawk helicopter crashed in Iraq on Aug. 22 were witnesses against two other Schofield soldiers accused of killing an Iraqi citizen, said Lt. Col. Michael Donnelly, spokesman for the 25th Infantry Division.
Donnelly said the Army does not plan to release the names of the witnesses or provide information on what they saw. He did not say how many were witnesses. "None of the soldiers were in any way implicated in any misconduct related to the alleged murder of the Iraqi," Donnelly said.
The preliminary hearings for Sgt. 1st Class Trey Corrales and Spc. Christopher Shore will be held here next month after the 3rd Brigade Combat Team returns from Iraq.
Donnelly said in an e-mail from Iraq that the Army has approved requests from defense attorneys for both soldiers to delay holding an Article 32 hearing, a military equivalent of a preliminary hearing.
Corrales, of San Antonio, was charged July 17 with ordering the killing of an Iraqi whom he and Shore, of Winder, Ga., had in their custody in Kirkuk. Both are soldiers assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry, 3rd Brigade Combat Team.
They could face the death penalty if convicted at a court-martial of premeditated murder.
Corrales has been separated from his platoon and is now assigned to Forward Operating Base McHenry in Iraq. Shore, 25, is in Iraq at Forward Operating Base Warrior.
Both were scouts with the platoon that lost half of its members Aug. 22 when the Black Hawk helicopter they were in crashed near Kirkuk after a late-night raid. Ten 25th Infantry Division soldiers and four Fort Lewis, Wash., helicopter crew members perished in the crash.
"That was his team. I still can't stop crying when I think about it," Corrales' wife, Lily, 34, told the San Antonio Express-News. "Trey's initial reaction was he should have been there. Of course, there is nothing he could have done," she told the paper.
Donnelly acknowledged that some of the soldiers who were killed in the Black Hawk crash were witnesses in the murder case.
However, Donnelly said, "Their tragic deaths do not affect the prosecution of their (Corrales and Shore) cases, which will still proceed as planned."
Shore's attorney, Michael Waddington, has said his client purposely shot away from the civilian rather than obey orders from Corrales to "finish him off." Shore fired his rifle twice and purposely missed, according to Waddington. Corrales' family has said the soldier believed the Iraqi was a terrorist.
Shore is one of four soldiers who reported the shooting and turned in Corrales, Waddington said.
Both Corrales, 34, and Shore, 24, have hired civilian attorneys.
Corrales' civilian attorney is Frank Spinner, who has taken on numerous high-profile military cases.
Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, who commands the 25th Infantry Division and Multinational Division-North, will determine whether Corrales and Shore will face a court-martial based upon the findings of the Article 32 hearing.
The two are not the first 25th Division soldiers to be charged with killing or abusing Iraqi or Afghan civilians. In August 2004, Pfc. Edward Richmond Jr. -- assigned to Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry -- was charged along with other soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team with killing an Iraqi civilian in their custody.
Richmond, of Gonzales, La., was the only 25th Infantry Division soldier convicted in the shooting. He said he was following the orders of his unit commander, Sgt. Jeffrey D. Waruch. Richmond was sentenced to three years in prison.