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Former soldier convicted in killings of four Taco Bell employees

November 22, 1997

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ A second former soldier was convicted of murder Friday in the shooting deaths of four Taco Bell workers during a robbery in 1994.

David Housler confessed to being the getaway driver and lookout man, and the jury that convicted him on four counts of murder also sentenced him to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

``The system’s not working,″ Housler said as he was led away from the courthouse.

``You’ve just convicted an innocent 23-year-old man,″ defense attorney Michael Terry told the jury as the sentencing hearing began. ``I have no faith in your ability to determine the proper sentence.″

Tennessee law at the time of the crime makes Housler eligible for parole after 25 years. The judge said he will decide on Dec. 12 whether the four life terms will run consecutively or concurrently.

Prosecutors had sought a life-without-parole sentence.

Housler, of Radcliff, Ky., was found guilty of helping gunman and fellow Fort Campbell soldier Courtney Mathews, 23.

Mathews, who had worked at the Taco Bell for 10 days as a part-time dishwasher and food handler, forced his co-workers to lie on the floor after the restaurant closed, then shot them.

The safe and the cash register were cleaned out, but the amount taken was not disclosed.

Mathews was convicted last year and is serving a life sentence without parole.

Prosecutors believe a half-dozen or more people were involved, though only Mathews and Housler were charged.

``We firmly believe there are several people who have gotten away with murder,″ said Tracey Campbell Hoover, sister of murder victim Kevin Campbell.

Housler was in jail on an unrelated robbery charge in 1995 when he confessed his involvement in the Taco Bell killings. During his trial, however, he said he lied. He said he had been trying to bargain for leniency on the robbery charge.

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