Defense witnesses point to family, physical demands for soldier's death
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FORT BRAGG—On Friday, a soldier described in detail what he said was a lack of training and experience by Pvt. Danny Chen in a Court Marshall on Fort Bragg.
Pvt. Chen was found shot and killed by a self-inflicted gun shot wound in October while he was deployed to Afghanistan. Sergeant Adam Holcomb is charged in Chen's death and is accused of hazing and mistreatment that led Chen to take his own life.
Chen's family and supporters entered the courthouse Friday, hoping to hear testimony in their favor. Several soldiers from Chen's unit were called to the stand by the defense, including Sgt. William Zade. Sgt. Zade was Chen's team leader.
Zade said when Chen arrived to their compound, he was quiet, and Zade said he was not ready for combat. Sgt. Zade testified the only training Pvt. Chen received before deploying to Afghanistan was basic training. Zade said Chen did not know skills such as weapon operations or how to pack gear for the patrols.
Sgt. Zade told the court Chen was "deficient" and did not show any willingness to learn his job. Zade said they were already working with “minimal guys in a highly dangerous part of Afghanistan”. He testified every member of the team needed to be well-prepared and trained to fight.
According to Sgt. Zade, Chen did not meet those standards.
Sgt. Zade not only testified that Chen was not physically fit or mentally motivated to learn, he said Chen refused to call home and tell his family how he was doing. When asked about the matter, Chen replied that there is no one for him to call and his family does not want to talk.
Sgt. Zade told defense attorneys after Pvt. Chen's refusal to call home several times, he said he took Chen to workout and taught him steps to improve his skills, but Chen did not react well.
Defense attorneys also called Pfc. Timothy Carner to the stand, but he had to be reached by phone. Carner lost his leg by an IED explosion and is currently receiving treatments.
Carner told the court of an incident in which he discovered Pvt. Chen had slept a night in the porter potty on their compound. When Carner asked Chen about it, he told him he felt unwell and did not deserve to sleep inside.
Holcomb is one of eight soldiers charged in relation to Chen's death. The defense will continue to state their Saturday.