FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (AP) _ An Army private convicted of bludgeoning a fellow soldier to death _ a crime prosecutors blamed on his hatred of homosexuals _ was sentenced today to life with the possibility of parole.

Pvt. Calvin N. Glover, 18, was found guilty of premeditated murder Wednesday in the beating death of Pfc. Barry Winchell. The guilty verdict carried a mandatory penalty of life in prison, but military jurors did have the option today of deciding whether Glover would ever be eligible for parole.

Glover did not react to the sentence announcement, which does not specify when he will become eligible for parole. He also will receive a reduction in rank and a dishonorable discharge.

Post commander Maj. Gen. Robert Clark will review the trial and sentence. He can either approve the findings or change the verdict or reduce the sentence, or both.

Earlier today, Glover apologized to Winchell's family.

``If I had acted as half the man, even half the soldier as Barry was, he'd be with us right now,'' Glover said, his voice cracking.

``I have to apologize to Barry's parents,'' he said. ``I'm deeply sorry for the pain I've brought your family. This is something that I'll have to remember for the rest of my life.''

Glover, who had been drinking before the July 5 attack in a Fort Campbell barracks, said he's a recovering alcoholic and that he had found God during his five months in jail.

Before the court-martial, Glover admitted to a lesser charge of unpremeditated murder in hopes of receiving a lighter sentence. But prosecutor Capt. Gregg Engler went ahead with the court-martial on a charge of premeditated murder.

When he offered his plea Tuesday, Glover sobbed and said he did not know why he hit Winchell ``at least two or three times'' with a bat as Winchell slept.

``I wasn't really mad at him, sir. It was just a mistake, sir. I was really drunk,'' Glover told the judge, Col. Gary J. Holland.

Glover of Sulphur, Okla., never addressed the allegation that he hated homosexuals.

The court also heard from Winchell's mother and stepfather, Pat and Wally Kutteles. They described their son as a loving, compassionate man who enjoyed the Army and looked forward to becoming a helicopter pilot.

A high school dropout, Glover got a graduate equivalency diploma, then asked his mother to declare him an adult at age 17 so he could enlist in 1998.

Defense attorneys argued that another soldier, Spc. Justin R. Fisher, 25, of Lincoln, Neb., who is charged as an accessory, goaded Glover into the attack.

Staff Sgt. Michael Kleifgen testified that Fisher started spreading rumors in March among members of their unit that Winchell, 21, of Kansas City, Mo., was gay. Kleifgen and another sergeant testified that Winchell told them that he was not gay. Fisher often harassed Winchell and once, during a scuffle, struck him in the head with a dustpan, Kleifgen said.

Kleifgen, their section leader at the time, said he regularly spoke with Fisher and Winchell about their differences. The problems continued, however, so the matter was presented to a first sergeant, he said.

``He said, basically, there was nothing we could do because of the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy,'' Kleifgen said, referring to the military's policy on homosexuals.

Kleifgen said he also got nowhere pursuing the issue with the company commander and filed a complaint with the post's inspector general. It was not immediately known what happened to that complaint.

Under the ``don't ask, don't tell'' policy, gay members of the military can continue to serve _ and their superiors cannot investigate and expel them _ as long as they keep their sexual orientation to themselves.

Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon said Tuesday the Defense Department is designing training programs to ensure understanding of the policy.

Fisher is to be court-martialed on Monday.