An Alaska-based soldier from South Carolina was convicted of fatally shooting his friend Christmas morning was sentenced to 11 years and nine months in prison Thursday.
A military judge found Army Spc. Marshall Drake, 23, guilty of involuntary manslaughter in a court-martial that began Wednesday. Drake accidentally fired his .45-caliber handgun into the face of his friend, Pfc. Grant Wise, 25, after the two started drinking on Christmas Eve and continued into early morning hours, prosecutors said.
Wise was from Fairport, N.Y., according to the Army. Both were members of the 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.
Drake and Wise woke a member of their company, Pvt. David Hubbard, about 6:30 a.m. Christmas Day, Hubbard testified. The men talked before Drake pulled a automatic handgun out of a drawer and apparently unloaded it, Hubbard said. Drake was joking around with Wise when he pointed it at his friend and pulled the trigger, shooting his fellow soldier once at close range, Hubbard said.
The incident was one of several that caused Army commanders to ban alcohol in the base barracks, JBER spokesman John Pennell said.
Along with the nearly 12 years imprisonment, Drake will be reduced in rank, will forfeit all pay and allowances and will be dishonorably discharged, Pennell said.
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By CASEY GROVE