The case of an Army paratrooper sentenced to death for a deadly sniper attack on his own troops should raise awareness of mental stress in the ranks, a fellow soldier says.
And the widow of Maj. Stephen Badger, originally from Salt Lake City, says she hopes her husband's killer receives mental health treatment."I would only hope that what would come from this would be that the system would listen to its soldiers a little more," said Riley Knight, a former 82nd Airborne Division trooper.
"When they say they have a problem, they do indeed have a problem," Knight said.
A military jury on Wednesday sentenced Sgt. William Kreutzer Jr. to death for murdering Badger. Eighteen other soldiers were wounded in the Oct. 27 attack, including a helicopter pilot who was left paralyzed.
Kreutzer, 27, of Clinton, Md., opened fire from a foxhole in the woods as 1,300 soldiers in the 82nd Airborne Division were doing morning calisthenics on an athletic field.
Defense lawyers argued that Kreutzer had a personality defect and was driven to the breaking point by harassment.
Kreutzer received counseling from a social worker in 1994 during deployment in the Sinai after he threatened to kill members of his squad because of pranks they played on him, including filling his boots with sand and tripping him with cord. The squad members also called him names such as "Crazy Kreutzer" and "Silence of the Lambs."
However, when Kreutzer returned to Fort Bragg months later, he had different leaders who did not intervene when the harassment continued, according to testimony.
Also during the court-martial, testimony indicated that paratroopers are highly stressed because of constant training to be the first deployed in the world's trouble spots.
Badger's widow said a mental health system is available to help soldiers deal with the stress.
"The help is there," Diane Badger said. "They (the Army) do the best they can."
Prosecutors on Tuesday won a conviction for premeditated murder, which is punishable by death or life in prison, by showing Kreutzer calmly aimed and fired and had said he planned to do it.
Kreutzer's sentence will be automatically appealed to the Army's appeal court. The sentence also could be appealed to a joint services appeal court and to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The last time the Army executed a soldier was in 1961, when Army Pvt. John Bennett, 28, of Chatham, Va., was hanged for raping and trying to kill an 11-year-old girl in Austria.