FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- A soldier from an Alaska-based Army unit was sentenced Monday to about three months in prison and demoted to private for his role in the suicide of Pvt. Danny Chen, who authorities say killed himself because he was hazed over his Chinese ancestry.
Spc. Thomas Porter Curtis pleaded guilty to hazing, assault and other charges in the case of Chen's suicide last fall in Afghanistan, The Fayetteville Observer reported. Prosecutors asked the judge to sentence Curtis to up to nine months in prison, reduced rank, loss of pay, and a bad conduct discharge.
Curtis, 27, of Hendersonville, Tenn., was accused of using racial slurs against Chen, throwing rocks at him and kicking him. Curtis said he punished Chen to humiliate him in front of his peers. Curtis said he was acting on his own.
Curtis said during a sentencing hearing that his actions were learned during his stint in the Marine Corps before joining the Army. The physical punishments were normal for the Marines, he told the court in an unsworn statement, but that didn't justify what he did.
"I know now your honor that it wasn't right, that I went too far," Curtis told the military judge.
Curtis was the fifth of eight soldiers charged in the case.
All of the accused were in Chen's unit, part of the 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team of Fort Wainwright. The courts-martial are being held at Fort Bragg because the unit was under the command of the 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan.