Sol­dier to en­ter plea in de­ser­tion case

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL -

RALEIGH, N.C. — Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will ap­pear in court next week to en­ter a plea to ac­cu­sa­tions that he en­dan­gered com­rades by walk­ing off his re­mote post in Afghanistan in 2009, the Army an­nounced Thurs­day.

The Army said Bergdahl will en­ter a plea to charges Mon­day at Fort Bragg, N.C. The news re­lease didn’t elab­o­rate on what his plea would en­tail, but two peo­ple with knowl­edge of the case said last week that Bergdahl is ex­pected to plead guilty to de­ser­tion and mis­be­hav­ior be­fore the en­emy. They were not au­tho­rized to dis­cuss the case and de­manded anonymity.

Pros­e­cu­tors aren’t say­ing whether they have agreed to limit Bergdahl’s pun­ish­ment. The mis­be­hav­ior charge car­ries a max­i­mum penalty of life in prison, while the de­ser­tion charge is pun­ish­able by up to five years.

A lawyer for Bergdahl didn’t im­me­di­ately re­turn a mes­sage seek­ing com­ment Thurs­day.

His trial had been sched­uled to be­gin Oct. 23, but those dates are ex­pected to be used for sen­tenc­ing now. While guilty pleas al­low Bergdahl to avoid trial, his sen­tenc­ing is still likely to in­clude tes­ti­mony about ser­vice mem­bers in­jured search­ing for him.

De­fense at­tor­neys have ac­knowl­edged that Bergdahl walked off his base with­out au­tho­riza­tion. Bergdahl him­self told a gen­eral dur­ing a pre­lim­i­nary in­ves­ti­ga­tion that he left in­tend­ing to cause alarm and draw at­ten­tion to what he saw as problems with his unit. He was cap­tured soon af­ter by the Tal­iban and its al­lies.

AP/WILFREDO LEE

Peo­ple wait to reg­is­ter for food as­sis­tance Thurs­day in Mi­ami. Four sites in Mi­ami-Dade County have been set up by state and fed­eral agen­cies to help feed peo­ple still suf­fer­ing af­ter Hur­ri­cane Irma.

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