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Judge: Soldier premeditated Iraq killings of Wilmington Navy officer, four soldiers

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JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, WA (AP) -- A military judge has found Army Sgt. John Russell guilty of premeditated murder in the 2009 killings of five fellow service members at a combat stress clinic in Iraq.

Russell now faces a sentencing phase to determine whether he will face life in prison with or without the possibility of release.

The 14-year veteran from Sherman, Texas, had previously pleaded guilty to unpremeditated murder in exchange for prosecutors taking the death penalty off the table. Under the agreement, prosecutors were allowed to try to prove to an Army judge at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state that the killings were premeditated.

An Army spokesman, Lt. Col. Gary Dangerfield, said the judge reached his decision Monday.

Killed in the 2009 shooting were Navy Cmdr. Charles Keith Springle, of Wilmington, and four Army service members: Pfc. Michael Edward Yates Jr., of Federalsburg, MD; Dr. Matthew Houseal, of Amarillo, TX; Sgt. Christian E. Bueno-Galdos, of Paterson, NJ; and Spc. Jacob D. Barton, of Lenox, MO.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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