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Soldier says Chen shared suicidal thoughts

Jul. 26, 2012 - 02:26PM   |   Last Updated: Jul. 26, 2012 - 02:26PM  |  
Military officials have said Pvt. Danny Chen shot himself last year in Afghanistan after weeks of emotional and physical abuse that constituted hazing.
Military officials have said Pvt. Danny Chen shot himself last year in Afghanistan after weeks of emotional and physical abuse that constituted hazing. (Army via the AP)
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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Army Pvt. Danny Chen said he was having suicidal thoughts days before he committed suicide, a soldier testified Thursday.

Pfc. Degan Berhe testified that he did not tell his supervisors of Chen's suicidal thoughts because he did not trust them after their treatment of Chen, http://bit.ly/PwXL1Z">according to The Fayetteville Observer.

Sgt. Adam Holcomb of Youngstown, Ohio, is accused of hazing 19-year-old Chen because of his Chinese heritage while they were deployed in Afghanistan. Holcomb's court-martial started Monday. He faces up to 18 years in prison if convicted on all charges, which include negligent homicide.

Prosecutors said Chen killed himself because of the hazing from Holcomb and seven other soldiers. Defense attorneys argued Chen was disowned by his family and that caused the suicide.

Berhe said he was the first to find Chen's body. He said he found Chen on the floor, lying next to his rifle with a bullet hole entering his chin and another wound in his cheek.

The 10-member military jury also heard from Pfc. Bryan Johnson, a friend of Chen's. Johnson said he saw Chen three times in Afghanistan and Chen told him about the alleged abuse.

"It was not the Danny Chen that I knew," Jonson said. "It was somebody that had lost all care or hope."

The forensic pathologist who performed Chen's autopsy also took the stand. He said he found two phrases written in black ink on Chen's left forearm — "Tell my parent I'm sorry" and "Veggie-pull the plug."

The prosecution concluded its presentation Thursday, and defense lawyers called one witness before the trial adjourned for the day.

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