Sun, December 19, 2004

GI jailed for gay sex murder

A U.S. National Guardsman pleaded guilty to killing a 17-year-old Iraqi, shooting him 11 times after they had sex in a guard tower, a North Carolina newspaper reported yesterday. Pte. Federico Daniel Merida, 21, pleaded guilty to murder without premeditation during a court martial in Iraq. He was sentenced on Sept. 25 to 25 years in prison, was reduced in rank and will be dishonourably discharged. He is being held at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

U.S. army officials at Forward Operating Base Danger in Iraq had withheld details of the case, but the News & Observer newspaper, of Raleigh, reported yesterday that records said Merida and the Iraqi were on guard duty May 11 in a tower on the perimeter of an army camp near Tikrit. About 10:30 p.m., he shot the teen with his carbine.

Merida first told investigators the teen demanded money at gunpoint. Later he said he killed the boy because he forced him to have sex. Then he admitted he was angry after the two had consensual sex.

Merida apologized to the victim's family: "I took someone they loved and cared for."

He was a member of the 113th Field Artillery Battalion's Battery B.