Bergdahl ex­pected to en­ter guilty plea next week

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - NATION & WORLD -

RALEIGH, N.C. — Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will ap­pear in court next week to en­ter an ex­pected guilty plea to charges that he en­dan­gered com­rades by walk­ing off his re­mote post in Afghanistan in 2009.

The Army an­nounced that Bergdahl will en­ter a plea Mon­day at Fort Bragg. The news re­lease didn’t elab­o­rate on what his plea would en­tail, but two in­di­vid­u­als with knowl­edge of the case told The As­so­ci­ated Press 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 that date is ex­pected to be used for sen­tenc­ing now. While guilty pleas al­low Bergdahl to avoid trial, his sen­tenc­ing is still likely to in­clude dra­matic tes­ti­mony about ser­vice mem­bers who were wounded search­ing for him.

Le­gal schol­ars say it will be re­vealed at Mon­day’s hear­ing whether Bergdahl struck a deal with pros­e­cu­tors, or is sim­ply plead­ing guilty with hope of le­niency from the judge. His five years of im­pris­on­ment by the Tal­iban and its al­lies could be a fac­tor in his sen­tenc­ing in ei­ther case.


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