RussellJoint Base Lewis-McChord officials today announced that Sgt. John M. Russell, accused

RussellJoint Base Lewis-McChord officials today announced that Sgt. John M. Russell, accused of murdering five fellow service members in Iraq two years ago, has officially been charged with the massacre and will face the death penalty if convicted at court-martial, despite a judge’s earlier recommendation that Russell not face execution because he is mentally ill. Base spokesperson Joseph Kubistek says the Army’s General Court-Martial Convening Authority this week referred the following charges for court-martial under the Uniform Code of Military Justice:Five specifications of premeditated murder; one specification of aggravated assault; one specification of attempted murder. “If convicted of all charges,” Kubistek says, “the maximum possible punishment is death.” As recounted in a 2009 SW cover story, Russell, now 47, attached to a Germany-based U.S. engineering battalion under Fort Lewis Stryker command, was on his third tour in Iraq and had turned suicidal. His commander confiscated his rifle and put him on unit watch, with a soldier-buddy to keep him company. But Russell obtained a gun and drove to a military stress center at Camp Liberty, killing four soldiers and a Navy officer. Last year, Col. James Pohl, chief judge of the Guantanamo Bay war crimes court and investigating officer into the Ford Hood massacre by Major Nidal Malik Hasan, presided over Russell’s competency hearings, finding that Russell has an “undisputed mental disease or defect” that makes “the death penalty inappropriate in this case.”The Army has not explained why it has decided to seek the penalty anyway.Russell is being defended by Texas attorney James Culp, who last month told us he’s being stalled by the Army and has sought removal of the colonel overseeing the case after an angry episode between the defense and prosecution teams at JBLM, where Russell is being held. No date has been set yet for the court-martial.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

More in News & Comment

File photo
Survey data suggests how the pandemic has changed attitudes toward housing in King County

More than half of King County survey participants say they will move in the next five years.

Clouds.
King County weather: Dec. 9-13

Here’s the King County area weather forecast for Dec. 9-13, 2021. Thursday… Continue reading

Redmond’s Silver Cloud Inn, purchased by county to become permanent supportive housing for the chronically homeless (photo credit: Cameron Sheppard)
King County Council approves plan for future of housing-first approach to homelessness

The plan will govern expenditures of Health through Housing dollars from 2022 to 2028.

This October 2021 photo provided by Pfizer shows kid-size doses of its COVID-19 vaccine.
King County woman among first in state to test positive for Omicron

Omicron appears to be more transmissible than the Delta variant.

File photo
Black drivers disproportionately pulled over by WSP in King, Pierce counties

A study by WSU researchers examined over 3 million traffic stops performed by WSP officers.

Screenshot
King County weather: Dec. 3-5

Here is your King County area weather forecast for Dec. 3-5, 2021.… Continue reading

Former UW Medicine peer support specialist James Encinas sitting in his home. Photo by Cameron Sheppard/Sound Publishing
Former Harborview social worker was victim of racial discrimination and retaliation

James Encinas worked for behavioral health program that aimed to house the chronically homeless.

Keith Wagoner
Senator becomes first GOP candidate for secretary of state

Sen. Keith Wagoner will challenge Democrat Steve Hobbs, who was appointed to the statewide post in November

Snoqualmie Falls and the Salish Lodge & Spa. File photo
Snoqualmie Tribe concerned with unregulated air traffic at Snoqualmie Falls

Tribe urges federal regulators to introduce flight restrictions over sacred site.

Most Read