Two sentenced in drug deal that led to servicemember’s death
By FRANKLIN FISHER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 9, 2009
CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea — Two U.S. soldiers who were involved in a drug deal in which a third soldier later died of an overdose were sentenced to prison and discharged from the military in separate trials at Camp Humphreys, the Army said Tuesday.
Both soldiers — initially charged with involuntary manslaughter and other counts stemming from what a prosecutor called “a drug deal gone bad” last December — were found guilty on drug charges. They were acquitted of the involuntary manslaughter charges.
Pvt. Aaron L. Wilson was sentenced Sept. 4 to one year in prison, reduction to pay grade E-1, and a bad-conduct discharge following a trial before military judge Lt. Col. Thomas Kulish and a jury of seven Army officers and senior noncommissioned officers.
The jury found Wilson guilty of possessing with intent to distribute 50-microgram Fentanyl patches, and with conspiracy to distribute one of the patches. Wilson was assigned to Headquarters Operations Company, 527th Military Intelligence Battalion, 501st Military Intelligence Brigade.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate 100 times more potent than morphine and is prescribed as a painkiller, according to information on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Web site. It is abused for its intensely euphoric effects and abuse has resulted in frequent overdoses, according to the DEA.
Pvt. Kelcey L. Neal was sentenced Aug. 28 to two years in prison and a bad-conduct discharge following a one-day trial. Tried by a judge alone, Kulish found him guilty of wrongful distribution of a controlled substance — two 50-microgram Fentanyl patches — and breaking restriction. Neal was assigned to Company B, 532nd Military Intelligence Battalion, 501st Military Intelligence Brigade.
The Army identified the soldier who died of an overdose as Spc. Alex Carter of Headquarters Support Company, 602nd Aviation Support Battalion, part of the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade.
Carter was found dead in his room with a 50-microgram Fentanyl patch on his left shoulder.
Defense lawyer Capt. Sean Rogers said in his opening statement during Wilson’s trial on Sept. 1 that Carter had a lethal level of Fentanyl in his body and also been drinking, Rogers told jurors. The combination, Rogers claimed, can have a “magnified” affect on the body.
Prosecutor Capt. Scott Hughes told jurors in his opening statement in the Wilson trial that the defendant had obtained the Fentanyl patches from a woman in the United States, who had a prescription for the drug and sent them to him.