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A 1st Infantry Division soldier who accidentally killed a fellow platoon member in Iraq in January with what he thought was an unloaded pistol was sentenced to a year in confinement and a bad-conduct discharge, the 1st ID legal office reported Tuesday.

Sgt. James L. Pousard, 26, from Company B, 63rd Armored Regiment, 3rd Brigade, pleaded guilty June 2 to dereliction of duty and negligent homicide in the death of Pfc. Kevin M. Luna, 26, at Forward Operating Base Normandy, Iraq, in January, a spokesman for the legal office said. Pousard is based in Vilseck, Germany, and was sentenced last week.

According to the case report, events leading to Luna’s death were set in motion several days before the shooting, around Jan. 24, when Pousard failed to clear a live round from the chamber of his M9 pistol on returning from a mission. The cartridge that would eventually kill Luna was still in the chamber when, two days later, Pousard helped the private clear his own M9 after another mission, when Luna also complained to the sergeant that his gun wasn’t working properly, the report reads.

Later that night, in the early hours of Jan. 27, Luna visited Pousard’s barracks room to talk about their next mission, where he began to check his pistol for the source of its problems, the report reads, prompting Pousard to check his own weapon. According to the summary, Pousard held the M9 at chest height, “negligently pointing it in the direction of Pfc. Luna,” and squeezed the trigger with the safety on, with no result.

The sergeant then switched off the safety, pulled the trigger, and hit Luna in the chest with the forgotten round, puncturing both his lungs and heart with a single 9 mm bullet from about 15 feet away, fatally wounding the private, the report reads.

In the general court-martial presided by Col. Patrick Reinert last week, Pousard was also sentenced to a reduction in rank to E1 and a total forfeiture of all pay and allowances, according to the summary. The case now moves to the convening authority for review.


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