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In brief: Private to plead guilty in Taliban killing, but reduced term expected

Sun., May 22, 2011

Washington – An Army private accused of killing a Taliban prisoner last year in Afghanistan has agreed to plead guilty, according to his attorney, even though several military psychiatrists concluded he was suffering severe mental illness at the time.

Pfc. David W. Lawrence is expected to receive a “substantially” reduced sentence for the killing of Mullah Mohebullah, a senior Taliban commander who was shot in the face last October while being guarded by Lawrence at a U.S. detention facility in Kandahar province, said James Culp, the defendant’s lawyer.

Lawrence had been charged with premeditated murder in military court. The plea deal will spare Lawrence from a possible life sentence without parole, the minimum punishment he faced if convicted on the charge under military law.

It will also shield the Army from the controversy over locking up a 20-year-old soldier for the rest of his life after its own doctors diagnosed him with schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress syndrome.

The plea deal is expected to be accepted when court-martial proceedings convene at Fort Carson, Colo., on Wednesday, the lawyer said.

Motorists perhaps even more alert

Greenville, Del. – Delaware highway officials say a portable road-message sign was hacked to read “Live nudes ahead” instead of advising motorists about a coming road closure near Greenville.

Department of Transportation spokeswoman Sandy Roumillat said the computerized sign is password-protected, but the contractor that owns the sign was using a password that was easy for his staff to remember, and apparently easy to guess. Roumillat said the password will be reset.

The message on the sign was discovered early Friday.


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