Military Death Sentence Vacated

An Army Court of Criminal Appeals has vacated the death sentence of William Kreutzer, a Fort Bragg soldier who was sent to the military’s death row for killing a fellow soldier and wounding others in 1995. The Court cited a number of grounds for the ruling that opens the door for rehearings on some charges and the sentence. For example, Kreutzer’s attorneys failed to adequately explain the significance of their client’s mental health problems for the panel that determined his guilt and sentence. In the ruling, Col. James S. Currie noted, “Appellant’s trial can be summed up in one sentence: Three defense counsel who lacked the ability and experience to defend this capital case were further hampered by the military judge’s erroneous decision to deny them necessary expert assistance, thereby rendering the contested findings and the sentence unreliable.” Court documents revealed that Kreutzer had considered suicide at age 16 and “fantasized out loud” about killing fellow soldiers after they teased him and played practical jokes on him. The Appeals Court criticized the trial judge for refusing to grant a defense request for a “mitigation specialist,” who could explain how Kreutzer’s mental health problems contributed to his actions. See Military Death Penalty. See also Representation.