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GI charged in fellow soldier’s death

By JOSEPH GIORDONO | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 1, 2009

A U.S. Army sergeant in Iraq has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of a fellow soldier in Samarra earlier this year, officials said Thursday.

Sgt. Miguel A. Vegaquinones also faces one charge of making a false official statement during the investigation of the incident.

According to military officials, Vegaquinones is charged in the death of Pfc. Sean P. McCune, who was shot on Jan. 11. Prosecutors believe McCune’s death was "a negligent discharge from Vegaquinones’ weapon."

The shooting allegedly took place after their guard shift, officials said.

Both soldiers were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. Vegaquinones is now temporarily attached to the brigade’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company at Contingency Operating Base Speicher, near Tikrit.

Involuntary manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of 10 years’ confinement, and making a false official statement carries a maximum sentence of five years.

When McCune’s death was announced on Jan. 13 by the Pentagon, it said he had died "of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident," a catch-all that has included accidental deaths, suicides and illnesses, among others.

In a Fort Worth Star-Telegram story published in January, McCune’s father, Larry, said the Army had told him "it appeared that his son was killed when his rifle accidentally discharged, perhaps while he was cleaning it."

McCune had been in Iraq for about a month at the time of the incident, officials said.


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