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Fort Jackson drill sergeant gets prison for truck crash that killed two soldiers

Two Soldiers salute the battle crosses of Pvt. Timothy Ashcraft and Pvt. Ethan Shrader during a memorial service in their honor held Oct. 17, 2017 at the Main Post Chapel.

ROBERT TIMMONS/U.S. ARMY

By TEDDY KULMALA | The State | Published: February 13, 2019

FORT JACKSON (Tribune News Service) — A Fort Jackson drill sergeant who pleaded guilty in the deaths of two privates will serve 18 months in prison following a court martial trial at the fort.

Staff Sgt. Andrew C. Marrow had been charged in the deaths of 19-year-old Pvt. Ethan Shrader and 18-year-old Pvt. Timothy Ashcraft in October 2017. They were killed after Marrow fell asleep while driving a truck on the fort and ran them over. Six other recruits were injured.

Marrow, who pleaded guilty Monday to dereliction of duty and two counts of negligent homicide, will be confined to a military prison in Charleston.

The military judge, Col. Charles Pritchard of Fort Bragg, sentenced Marrow to 22 months in prison after a day and a half of testimony that included the mothers of the two dead soldiers, recruits who were injured in the accident, other witnesses and family and friends of Marrow. But the sentence was capped at 18 months under a pre-trial arrangement Marrow signed.

Because the sentence was for more than six months, Marrow will be demoted to private will forfeit all pay and allowance.

Marrow, looking at the mothers of Shrader and Ashcraft, read a statement in court before sentencing. “There’s nothing I can do to bring your child back, and I accept responsibility for that,” Marrow said. “I could never replace what you have lost or what I have taken.”

In closing arguments, prosecutor Capt. Samantha Katz said, “Our lives are the product of our choices,” adding that Shrader and Ashcraft’s choices to join the U.S. Army led them to Fort Jackson along with the other recruits who were injured that day.

Unfortunately, she said, it also led to them getting killed by the vehicle that was meant to keep them safe while they marched in formation. And it was Marrow’s choices to not get adequate sleep before operating the vehicle, not asking another drill sergeant to drive, and not acting on warning signs like nodding off in the moments leading up to the deadly crash.

“It was Staff Sgt. Marrow’s own choices that caused this,” Katz said. “His life moving forward must be a product of his choices. ... Staff Sergeant Marrow will have the opportunity to start over. Private Ashcraft and Private Shrader will never have that opportunity.”

But defense attorney Maj. Erik Henderson argued that the Army unwittingly set up the circumstances for the deadly crash through “an irresponsible lack of fatigue and personnel management” and “playing roulette with drill sergeant rest.”

“He didn’t have a choice; he was doing his job,” Henderson said. “The Army placed Staff Sgt. Marrow in a bad situation, and they weren’t even aware they were doing it.”

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