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YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — An 8th Army major will face court-martial on charges of murder, but not premeditated murder as prosecutors had first sought, officials said Friday afternoon.

Maj. Richard K. Hart also faces charges of adultery and two counts each of obstructing justice and assault, said 8th Army spokesman Lt. Col. Steve Boylan. Hart is accused of killing his wife in August.

Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, a charge of murder can be brought under Article 118 in any of four instances, ranging from a “premeditated design to kill” to “an act which is inherently dangerous to another and evinces a wanton disregard for human life.”

Hart’s arraignment likely will be held later this week, Boylan said, but a date has not been set. The reduced charges were approved by the general court-martial authority, 8th Army commander Lt. Gen. Charles Campbell, Boylan said.

Government prosecutors originally alleged Hart intentionally murdered his wife by strangling her before dumping her body from a bridge near Incheon International Airport near Seoul.

Testimony from medical personnel and family members during a three-day Article 32 hearing late last year threw doubt on the government’s contention of premeditation.

Capt. James Culp, one of Hart’s two military attorneys, at one point said Hart was “guilty of nothing more than manslaughter.”

Though final autopsy results had not yet been confirmed, a military pathologist testified that the likely cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head of Patricia Ann Hart, 53.

Richard Hart’s attorneys, backed up by emotional testimony from Hart’s daughter and sister, contended Patricia’s death was the accidental result of the latest in a long string of violent arguments.

The 45-year-old officer, assigned to Yongsan’s Combined Forces Command, became snarled in a domestic violence incident that went too far, the defense teams said. They added he was a victim of violence as much as his wife and daughter were.

South Korean police arrested Hart early on the morning of Aug. 12 after they allegedly observed him dump the nude, plastic-wrapped body of his wife from the Yongjong Bridge.

Hart was handed over to U.S. military authorities later that day and has been held at the Camp Humphreys Confinement Facility since then.

The Article 32 hearing was held at Yongsan Garrison, but officials could not say Friday where the arraignment and court-martial would be held.


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