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thedrifter
08-15-07, 02:20 PM
Soldier convicted of beating Iraqi detainee
The Associated Press
Posted : Wednesday Aug 15, 2007 7:42:50 EDT

FORT LEE, Va. — A soldier charged with beating an Iraqi detainee with a baseball bat and trying to cover it up was convicted of lesser charges Aug. 14 and sentenced to a reprimand.

A six-person military jury convicted Sgt. 1st Class Timothy L. Drake, 40, of assault and making false statements but acquitted him of impeding the investigation and encouraging a fellow soldier to beat a detainee.

The jury sentenced Drake, who originally faced more than 20 years in prison, to be reprimanded, defense attorney Michael Waddington said late Aug. 14. Drake will not serve jail time or be reduced in rank.

“Considering the fact that on [Aug. 13] when we went in there he was facing over 20 years and he was charged with fracturing somebody’s skull with a ball bat. ... He was happy with the result,” Waddington said.

A reprimand is a formal, written censure that almost inevitably ends any chance for career advancement, but it is considered a very light sentence in a general court-martial.

During the sentencing phase, Drake apologized for “disgracing” the military. He said the stress of combat operations and the recent death and injury of friends caused him to hit the detainee.

“What I did was wrong. I know that,” Drake told the jury.

Drake will remain in the military but hopes to be transferred from Fort Lee, Waddington said.

Drake, 40, was accused of striking the detainee in December 2003 at Forward Operating Base Mercury, near the Iraqi town of Fallujah.

The defense rested its case Aug. 14 after putting only one witness on the stand — an Army physician whose testimony Waddington said supported claims of no medical evidence of abuse at the base.

Spc. Angel M. Bonilla testified Aug. 13 that he saw Drake strike a detainee with an aluminum bat. Afterward, he said Drake told him, “B, come get a piece of this.”

Bonilla said he grabbed a bat from outside the tent and struck a second detainee. He said that he regretted it but that he had felt pressured to do it.

Drake, a senior food-service sergeant at that time, did not testify.

On Aug. 13, the military judge dismissed a charge of bodily injury against Drake, one of the most serious counts. The dismissal reduced Drake’s maximum possible punishment from 21 years to 16 years.

Ellie