- The Washington Times - Friday, May 17, 2013

An Army sergeant who worked at a combat stress clinic in Iraq but went on a rampage and killed five colleagues in 2009 was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Sgt. John Russell was found guilty of premeditated murder earlier this week. Army Col. David Conn sentenced him on Thursday, The Associated Press reported. Mr. Russell is set to start his Fort Leavenworth, Kan., term in the next few days.

Mr. Russell, who served 14 years, had previously pleaded guilty to unpremeditated murder in order to avoid a death penalty. But prosecutors successfully argued that the shootings were actually planned — despite defense attorneys’ insistence that Mr. Russell’s snap stemmed from depression and despair.

A military mental health expert had testified that Mr. Russell was plagued by psychotic-like symptoms stemming from depression and post-combat disorders, AP reported.

The 2009 shooting rocked the military and sparked a national debate about the mental stress soldiers faced from repeated deployments, AP said.