Soldier's drunken slashing nets jail sentence
CAMP CASEY, South Korea — Five minutes after taking a punch in the ear, Pvt. Christopher Phillips held up a lock knife and threatened his roommate.
“If you’re going to cut me, cut me,” replied Pfc. Geoffrey Mondragon, according to court documents.
So Phillips did.
On Wednesday in the Camp Casey courtroom, Phillips pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and was sentenced to nine months in jail, reduction in rank to E-1 and a bad-conduct discharge.
Phillips, 20, slashed a three-inch opening along Mondragon’s neck, exposing, but not rupturing, the jugular vein.
Phillips, who said they had both been drinking, then gave the knife to Mondragon and told him to cut him back.
Mondragon broke the blade off the hilt, threw it in the sink and then went for help.
Phillips told military Judge Col. Donna Wright that Mondragon had actually put his neck on the blade while challenging him, though his claim wasn’t corroborated by any documents or testimony.
Defense lawyer Capt. David Stem argued for leniency, contending the assault was not a malicious attack.
“This was something that simply escalated, and it went too far,” he said.
Prosecutor Capt. Michael Sweetman asked for a 12-month sentence based on the crime’s potential for serious harm.
Phillips will serve only eight months in confinement because the sentence was limited by a pre-trial agreement.
“I’ve apologized to Pvt. Mondragon numerous times,” Phillips said. “Like I said, we were friends after the fight. ... I’m ashamed for what I did, and I apologize for everything that happened.”