RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The Latest on pretrial hearings in the case of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who is accused of endangering comrades by walking off his post in Afghanistan in 2009 (all times local):
A former Navy Seal says his career was ended by a wound he suffered on a search mission to find Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl after the soldier walked off his post in Afghanistan. Prosecutors called retired Senior Chief Petty Officer James Hatch to testify Wednesday at a pretrial hearing at Fort Bragg.
He said he was shot in the leg and feared bleeding to death on a search mission. Prosecutors want to use evidence of injuries to service members such as Hatch during sentencing if Bergdahl is convicted. A judge already ruled that evidence of the injuries can’t be used during the guilt-or-innocence phase of the trial.
Bergdahl is scheduled to go to trial in October on charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. Also on Wednesday, the military judge told defense attorneys they can ask potential jurors a series of questions about President Donald Trump on a written questionnaire. Defense lawyers have argued Trump’s criticism of Bergdahl will prevent him from getting a fair trial.
Lawyers for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl are seeking to limit the severity of punishments he could face through new arguments attacking the structure of the case against him. One motion slated for argument at a hearing Wednesday contends the most serious charge against Bergdahl, who’s from Idaho, should be dismissed because his actions didn’t rise to the level of criminality required to trigger the rare offense.
Another motion argues that his capture by the Taliban prevented him from returning to his comrades during the period when he’s accused of the separate charge of desertion.
A legal scholar not involved in the case, Eric Carpenter, said defense attorneys could have a tough time convincing the judge of those arguments, but a favorable ruling on either could help steer the case away from harsher punishments.