Sgt Derrick Miller of Maryland shook hands with several soldiers in his unit after the 10-member military jury delivered the sentence at Fort Campbell after two hours of deliberation. The 27-year-old was found guilty of premeditated murder.
His attorney had argued during two days of testimony that Miller acted in self-defence when he shot a man last September. The military has identified him as Atta Mohammed but his name was not used in court.
Defence lawyer Charles Gittins told the jury that Miller stopped the man for questioning when he walked through a defensive perimeter that Miller’s unit had set up around a mortar unit.
Gittins said Miller believed the man could be a threat to his unit and that during questioning the man tried to grab Miller’s weapon.
Gittins told the military panel during closing arguments that if they believed Miller acted in self-defence, they must acquit him.
“You have Sgt Miller’s life in your hands,” Gittins said.
But Charles Miller, a witness and Guardsman from Maryland, testified that he heard Sgt Miller threatening to kill the man if he did not tell the truth and then straddling the man, who was lying on his back, before shooting him in the head.
Maj Matt Calarco, a prosecuting lawyer, said during closing arguments: “Immediately following the event the accused said, ‘I shot him. He was a liar.'”
The jury deliberated for less than three hours before finding Miller guilty.
Miller was assigned to a
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