FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — An Army sergeant was sentenced Tuesday to 30 days in prison, a demotion and docked a month's pay for his role in the alleged racial hazing of a fellow soldier who later committed suicide.
Military prosecutors said Sgt. Adam Holcomb and seven other soldiers charged in Pvt. Danny Chen's death physically and emotionally abused the 19-year-old, whose parents were Chinese immigrants. Chen, of New York City, was found dead in an Afghanistan last October from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
A 10-member military jury at Fort Bragg sentenced Holcomb, of Youngstown, Ohio, on Tuesday morning. He faced a maximum of up to two years in prison and a dishonorable discharge. The forfeiture in pay amounts to a little more than $1,000.
"He will always have the stigma of being convicted at a court-martial," his attorney said during closing statements. "Suffice it to say, Sgt. Holcomb has been punished enough."
Holcomb was convicted Monday by the same jury of maltreatment of a subordinate and assault consummated by battery. He was cleared of the most serious charge, negligent homicide. The jurors concluded that Holcomb assaulted Chen by pulling him out of bed and across large rocks. They found Holcomb guilty of maltreatment for calling Chen "Dragon Lady."
The defense called Holcomb an American hero and argued Chen was an incompetent soldier who killed himself because his family disowned him.
Prosecutors argued that Holcomb needed to be punished as an example to other soldiers.
Holcomb, in an unsworn statement following his conviction, said he apologized for his actions and that he knew what he did was wrong. He described having symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disorder and said he had trouble controlling himself.
"I haven't had a CT scan, but I know I have issues up there," he said in the statement.
Elizabeth OuYang, president of the New York chapter of the Organization for Chinese Americans, an Asian-American civil rights organization, said the Chen family would not make a statement until all the trials are concluded. The second of eight courts-martial in Chen's death is scheduled for Aug. 13.
"Thirty days hardly equates with Pvt. Danny Chen's life being cut short at the age of 19," she told The Associated Press Tuesday. " ... Asian American parents will be petrified to send their sons and daughters to serve in the Army with superiors convicted of racial maltreatment."
The trial has garnered international attention and Chinese media made the trip to North Carolina to cover the trial.
All of the defendants were members of the 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division based at Fort Wainwright, Alaska.Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Start of War: Oct. 7, 2001
<em>American soldiers hide behind a barricade during an explosion, prior to fighting with Taliban forces November 26, 2001 at the fortress near Mazar-e-Sharif, northern Afghanistan. (Photo by Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images)</em>
Number of U.S. Troops in Afghanistan: 88,000
<em>US Marines with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit deployed from the USS Bataan's Amphibious Ready Group arrive December 14, 2001 at an undisclosed location with field gear and weapons. (Photo by Johnny Bivera/Getty Images)</em>
Number of Troops at War's Peak
<em>U.S. Marines begin to form up their convoy at a staging area near Kandahar, Afghanistan, as they await orders to begin their trek to Kandahar to take control of the airfield 13 December, 2001. (DAVE MARTIN/AFP/Getty Images)</em><br><br> Number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan at the war's peak: About 101,000 in 2010. Allies provided about 40,000.
<em>U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a televised address from the East Room of the White House on June 22, 2011 in Washington, D.C. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais-Pool/Getty Images)</em><br><br> Withdrawal plans: 23,000 U.S. troops expected to come home by the end of the summer, leaving about 68,000 in Afghanistan. Most U.S. troops expected to be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014, though the U.S. is expected to maintain a sizeable force of military trainers and a civilian diplomatic corps.
Number of U.S. Casualties
<em>American flags, each one representing the 4,454 American soldiers killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, move in the breeze at The Christ Congregational United Church March 17, 2008 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)</em><br><br> Number of U.S. casualties: At least 1,828 members of the U.S. military killed as of Tuesday, according to an Associated Press count. According to the Defense Department, 15,786 U.S. service members have been wounded in hostile action.
Afghan Civilian Casualties
<em>Asan Bibi, 9, sits on a bench as burn cream is applied to her at Mirwais hospital October 13, 2009 Kandahar, Afghanistan. She, her sister and mother were badly burned when a helicopter fired into their tent in the middle of the night on October 3rd, according to their father. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)</em><br><br> Afghan civilian casualties: According to the United Nations, 11,864 civilians were killed in the conflict between 2007, when the U.N. began reporting statistics, and the end of 2011.
Cost of the War
<em>An Iraqi man counts money behind a pile of American dollars in his currency exchange bureau in Baghdad on April 11, 2012. (ALI AL-SAADI/AFP/Getty Images)</em><br><br> Cost of the war: $443 billion from fiscal year 2001 through fiscal year 2011, according to the Congressional Research Service.
Number of Times Obama Has Visited Afghanistan
<em>US President Barack Obama speaks to troops during a visit to Bagram Air Field on May 1, 2012 in Afghanistan. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images) </em><br><br> Number of times Obama has visited Afghanistan: 3 as president, including Tuesday, and 1 as a presidential candidate.