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Marine Pleads Guilty to Shooting Comrade

November 14, 2006

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (AP) _ A Marine Corps Reserve lance corporal pleaded guilty Tuesday to negligent homicide in the death of a comrade shot with a rifle that wasn’t supposed to be loaded.

Lance Cpl. Michael C. Fulcher, 21, of Pennsylvania, entered the plea during a court-martial at Camp Lejeune. He also pleaded guilty to negligent use of a firearm.

Lance Cpl. Adam Fales, 21, a military policeman, died Dec. 16, 2005, in the room he shared at Iraq’s Camp Fallujah with Fulcher and Lance Cpl. Sean P. Riley, 21. Fales died when a loaded rifle discharged unintentionally.

Fulcher and Riley were members of a reserve unit based in Lehigh, Pa., that was attached to the North Carolina-based 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force. Fales was an active-duty Marine based at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, in Havelock, N.C.

Fulcher had been charged with involuntary manslaughter and negligent discharge of a weapon but struck a plea bargain. Riley is accused of involuntary manslaughter and dereliction of duty. The military also has offered him a plea deal, and a hearing was set for Wednesday.

Fales’ mother, Glenda Fales of Cullman, Ala., has said an investigation found neither Riley nor a sergeant properly checked Riley’s weapon to make sure its chamber was empty.

She has said she supported the plea deal, under which the defendants would receive six months or less in the brig and an honorable discharge, rather than a possible 10 years in prison and a dishonorable discharge. Fulcher was not immediately sentenced Tuesday.

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