European edition, Tuesday, July 17, 2007

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Pvt. Terrence A. Norman pleaded not guilty Monday to involuntary manslaughter in the alleged 2005 gang-beating death of Sgt. Juwan Johnson.

Norman is the first soldier to stand court-martial in Johnson’s death. Two other soldiers charged in Johnson’s death are scheduled for court-martial this summer.

Norman also faces five additional charges, including obstructing justice and conspiring to violate an Army regulation on hazing. All six charges against Norman stem from Johnson’s death, as well as other alleged initiations into the Gangster Disciples in Tikrit, Iraq, and in Kaiserslautern.

Norman, now with the 29th Support Group, deployed to Iraq in 2004 with the Kaiserslautern-based 66th Transportation Company. During its deployment from January 2004 to February 2005, the company primarily operated out of Camp Speicher near Tikrit.

Johnson, of the 66th Transportation Company, was beaten on July 3, 2005, near Kaiserslautern during an alleged jumping-in ceremony into the Gangster Disciples, a notorious Chicago-based gang. In pre-trial hearings, eyewitness Pvt. Latisha Ellis testified that nine men — mostly servicemembers — beat Johnson for six minutes. Johnson was found dead the following day in his Kaiserslautern barracks.

Following a morning of legal motions Monday, Norman entered a plea in the afternoon of not guilty on all charges. As of press time, military lawyers were selecting a panel from 12 potential jury members. At least one-third of the panel must be enlisted soldiers. Opening statements were not expected to begin until Tuesday morning.

Norman’s court-martial is expected to conclude Friday but could go into the weekend.

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