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Soldier accused in Chen case demoted, forced to forfeit part of his pay

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — One of the soldiers accused in the hazing-related death of Army Pvt. Danny Chen has been demoted and forced to forfeit part of his pay.

Sgt. Travis Carden was punished Wednesday on Fort Bragg in a summary court-martial, a proceeding that occurs without a military judge. He was demoted to specialist and forced to forfeit two-thirds of his pay for one month.

In a summary court-martial, a military lawyer decides the case and can only impose a maximum sentence of 30 days in prison, forfeiture of two-thirds pay for one month and demotion to private.

Carden, who consented to the summary court-martial, was not represented by a military lawyer.

Because of his rank, he did not face a prison sentence, according to the Uniform Code of Military Justice and Manual for Courts-Martial.

Carden was convicted of hazing Chen and maltreating him by calling him racially disparaging names and ordering him to perform pushups with his mouth full of water.

Carden is the fourth soldier assigned to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, to be punished in Chen's death Oct. 3 in Afghanistan.

Military officials said hazing and maltreatment at the hands of Chen's platoon drove the 19-year-old soldier to suicide at Combat Outpost Palace in Kandahar province.

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Four other soldiers also face charges in Chen's death, including Spc. Thomas Curtis, whose court-martial is scheduled to begin Monday on Fort Bragg.

Three other soldiers have already been tried. They are:

Sgt. Adam Holcomb, who was convicted of maltreatment and sentenced to 30 days in prison, the loss of one rank and the forfeiture of more than $1,100 in pay after a seven-day trial.

Spc. Ryan Offutt, who pleaded guilty to hazing and mistreating Chen and was sentenced to six months in prison, a demotion to private and a bad conduct discharge in a plea agreement.

Staff Sgt. Blaine Dugas, Chen's platoon sergeant, who was demoted one rank and sentenced to three months in prison after convictions for using alcohol in a combat zone and dereliction of duty. Dugas will not have to serve time in prison because of credit for 90 days in prison based on unlawful pretrial punishment.

The trials are at Fort Bragg because the Alaska-based unit fell under the command of the 82nd Airborne Division in southern Afghanistan.

brooksd@fayobserver.com
 

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