Army jury convicts island soldier of assault in death of Iraqi civilian
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A military jury convicted a Schofield Barracks soldier yesterday of a reduced charge of assault in the death of an Iraqi civilian last year.
Army Spc. Christopher Shore of Winder, Ga., was found guilty of aggravated assault in the June 23 shooting death. He was sentenced to 120 days in jail, will have his rank reduced to private and will receive a reprimand. He was originally charged with murder, but that was reduced to manslaughter and the jury found him guilty of the lesser offense.
Shore contends he shot at the civilian but purposely missed after being ordered to kill the man. He says he was following the orders of his platoon leader, Sgt. 1st Class Trey Corrales.
Corrales is charged with premeditated murder and will be tried starting April 22.
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GREGG K. KAKESAKO / GKAKESAKO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Army Spc. Christopher Shore, left, conferred with an attorney, Maj. Javier Rivera, yesterday at the Wheeler Army Air Field courthouse after being convicted of aggravated assault.
A 26-year-old Schofield Barracks soldier was convicted yesterday of assault after being cleared of murdering a 28-year-old unarmed, wounded Iraqi civilian last summer.
Spc. Christopher Shore of Winder, Ga., was sentenced to 120 days in jail, will receive an official reprimand, and will be demoted to private.
Derrick Sparks, Shore's half brother, said the conviction on a lesser charge was "an answer to our prayers. We spent a long time praying. A lot of people prayed for my brother, and I want to tell everybody thank you. ... I knew my brother was innocent."
The verdict, by the jury of five enlisted soldiers and four officers, came after four hours of deliberation. Shore showed little emotion when the verdict was read, but once the court-martial went into a recess, he hugged his father, Brian; his wife, Katherin; and Sparks in the hallway outside of the courtroom.
During the sentencing phase of his court-martial, Shore cried when asked by his attorney Michael Waddington to describe his relations with members of his scout platoon.
Shore recalled that nearly half his platoon of 26 did not survive the 15-month Iraq deployment that ended in October. Ten soldiers died Aug. 22 when their Black Hawk helicopter crashed returning to base.
He initially had been charged with premeditated murder. He said he had been only following the orders of his platoon leader, Sgt. 1st Class Trey Corrales, during an early morning raid June 23 near Kirkuk. Corrales is charged with premeditated murder and will be tried starting April 22.
An investigative officer, following an Article 32 hearing in October, recommended that Shore be charged with aggravated assault. However, Lt. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, in one of his last actions as commanding general of the 25th Infantry Division, sent the matter to a court-martial with the manslaughter charge.
Army prosecutors maintained that Shore could have avoided firing his rifle by leaving the scene as other members of his platoon did.
Army prosecutor Capt. James Leary said Shore's decision to fire two shots at the victim was itself illegal.
Throughout the investigation, subsequent hearings and this week's court-martial, both sides did not dispute that Corrales shot the Iraqi. But there was conflicting testimony on whether Shore fired any shots at the victim. Waddington said Shore deliberately aimed away from the Iraqi's body.
Waddington repeatedly argued during the two-day court-martial that there was not enough forensic evidence to prove that bullets from Shore's M-4 carbine killed the Iraqi. He described the investigation as "sloppy," saying investigators initially went to the wrong house and excavated the wrong yard.
Waddington, in closing arguments, said Shore also was under duress because he feared his platoon leader, Corrales.
Yesterday, Waddington read into the court record the written statement of Essa Ahmed, the unit's interpreter, who said he was asked by Corrales to translate the word "run" in Arabic, which Corrales used several times in instructing the victim.
After hearing four shots, Ahmed said he heard Corrales tell his soldiers, "I killed that mother----."
An autopsy later revealed the Iraqi was shot five times in the head, left and right arms, and back.