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Soldier seeks to avoid death for Iraq shootings
Attorney says soldier's 2009 shootings in Iraq not premeditated, seeks to avoid death penalty
By The Associated Press

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) ' A defense attorney is seeking to shield an Army sergeant from facing capital punishment for the shooting deaths of five other service members in 2009 at a combat stress clinic in Iraq.

The attorney argued Thursday that 46-year-old Sgt. John Russell's actions weren't premeditated because he was mentally ill at the time they occurred.

Defense attorney and Army Capt. Larris Hutton made his comments during closing arguments in a hearing on whether Russell should be court martialed on five counts of premeditated murder, two counts of premeditated murder and one count of assault.

The government wants to pursue a capital case. The hearing's presiding officer will make a recommendation later on whether there should be a court martial and whether Russell should face the death penalty.

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