RALEIGH, N.C. - A sergeant and Youngstown native accused of hazing a private because of his Chinese heritage will go on trial this week on charges the abuse led to the soldier's suicide.
Pvt. Danny Chen, 19, shot himself to death in a guardhouse Oct. 3. He was called names while in training, then was subjected to hazing after he was deployed to Afghanistan, his family has said. On the day of Chen's death, he was forced to crawl about 100 yards across gravel carrying his equipment while his fellow soldiers threw rocks at him, the family said.
Sgt. Adam Holcomb of Youngstown is the first of eight soldiers charged in Chen's death to go on trial. He faces a negligent homicide charge, which carries a maximum prison sentence of three years, and a host of other charges. If convicted of all of them, he could face up to about 18 years in prison.
Four other men face the negligent homicide charge, the most severe in this case, and the judge's decision in Holcomb's trial could be an indicator for the other soldiers.
Chen was a member of the 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division based in Fort Wainwright, Alaska, but was under the command of a Fort Bragg general in Afghanistan. Maj. Gen. James Huggins requested the trial be transferred to Fort Bragg - which military officials said worked out better logistically. Chen's family had also lobbied for the trials to be held stateside.