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Iraq War Vet Makes Plea Deal in Vegas Slay

September 24, 2005

LAS VEGAS (AP) _ An Iraq war veteran agreed to plead guilty to a weapons charge Friday in a deal with prosecutors that requires him to get counseling but drops murder and attempted murder charges.

Matthew Sepi, who was carrying an assault rifle on his way to buy beer at a convenience store, was accused of using the weapon to kill a woman and wound a man on his way home.

Prosecutor Chris Owens said the July shooting was self-defense and that Kevin Ratcliff fired at least one shot with a handgun before Sepi pulled the AK-47 assault rifle from beneath his coat.

Sharon Jackson, 47, was killed and Ratcliff, 36, was wounded in the legs.

Cell phone records showed Ratcliff called an acquaintance before the attack. The acquaintance told authorities that Ratcliff said Sepi ``had disrespected them and they were going to teach him a lesson. They were lying in wait for him when he returned,″ Owens said.

Sepi, a Navajo Indian from Winslow, Ariz., will plead guilty to carrying a concealed weapon and no contest to possession of a weapon.

The charges would be dismissed if Sepi completes at least 90 days of inpatient drug and alcohol counseling at a Veterans Affairs center and at least seven weeks of combat trauma counseling.

Sepi was an Army infantryman and sharpshooter who served in Iraq before he was honorably discharged in May.

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