Saturday, December 18, 2004

Oh Lord 

People do weird things when they're bored and lonely...but they do really awful things when they're scared:

(via Raleigh-Durham NC News & Observer)
A North Carolina National Guard member thought to be the first U.S. soldier convicted of murdering an Iraqi said he "snapped" and shot the 17-year-old boy after they had consensual sex, according to court-martial records released this week.

Pvt. Federico Daniel Merida, 21, of Biscoe, a tiny town south of Asheboro, pleaded guilty during a court-martial in Iraq to shooting the Iraqi national guard private, whose name the Army withheld. The Los Angeles Times reported shortly after the court-martial that the victim's name was Falah Zaggam

According to the records, Zaggam and Merida were on guard duty May 11 in a tower on the perimeter of an Army camp near Tikrit in northern Iraq. About 10:30 p.m., Merida shot Zaggam repeatedly with his M-4 carbine.

The "gay panic" motive was the third that Merida offered. He first told investigators that Zaggam demanded money at gunpoint. Later, he said he killed Zaggam because the boy forced him to have sex.

Merida was sentenced Sept. 25 to 25 years in prison and reduced in rank. He will be dishonorably discharged. Friends and family members wrote the Army asking for a reduction in Merida's sentence, citing the fact that his son, a toddler, needs him and that his wife speaks little English and relies on him. Merida was born in Veracruz, Mexico, and moved to the United States as a child.

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