Soldier Faces Death Penalty for Killing Comrades

Murder of fellow troops, 'fragging,' is rare in Iraq
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jun 16, 2008 8:24 AM CDT
In this photo provided by the Esposito family, Phillip Esposito shakes hands with President Clinton as he graduates from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1997.    (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – A soldier may soon face court-martial in the deaths of two US officers in Iraq, whom army prosecutors say he killed in a rare instance of “fragging”—the murder of a fellow soldier. The New York Times examines the case of Sgt. Alberto Martinez, who prosecutors say detonated a mine in Captain Phillip Esposito’s quarters in 2005, killing him and another officer. “I’m convinced this was 100% preventable,” said Esposito’s widow.

Fragging was much more common during Vietnam, when the army wasn't 100% volunteer, but the Martinez case is only the second in the Iraq war. Martinez came from a hard-scrabble background, and was rejected various times by the military before the National Guard took him on a waiver. “With fragging, you’re likely to find someone who never really fit into the military, who probably felt like an outsider,” says a military psychiatrist.