Army commanders with broad legal training and experience will decide who, if anyone, should stand trial for Pat Tillman’s death.


“These are extraordinarily difficult cases for commanders to make judgments about,” said John Einwechter, who has been both an Army commander and a military prosecutor.



“Aside from the personal and professional loyalties and that whole matrix of things, there’s just the gnawing, raw judgment that you’re called upon to make with enormous consequences for people you love, both living and dead.



“It puts any human being out of his comfort zone to have to decide whether somebody’s going to stand trial for unintentionally killing a fellow soldier in a combat or training environment,” he said.



There are several charges both the men who fired and those who oversaw them could face, according to military legal experts.



But three of the four soldiers who shot at Tillman are now out of the Army, and cannot be court martialed; a civilian prosecution would be extraordinary. Key officers who controlled the platoon’s movements remain in the military.



Three possible charges:

Negligent homicide: For killing someone because of an absence of due care for “the safety of others which a reasonably careful person would have exercised under similar circumstances.”



Gimble has specifically told lawmakers he is looking at this as a possible charge. Conviction carries a maximum punishment of three years in prison, a dishonorable discharge and forfeiture of pay.



Negligent dereliction of duty: For unintentionally failing to use “due care,” or failing to do what their official responsibilities required them to do. It carries a maximum penalty of forfeiture of two-thirds of pay per month for three months and confinement for three months.



Such a charge could not be brought against the three men who are out of the Army, because the civilian criminal code does not contain the offense of dereliction of duty, Einwechter said.



Obstruction of justice: For covering up a crime, making false statements, influencing a witness or other fraudulent behavior. Punishment is a maximum of five years in prison.


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