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Three soldiers charged in accidental death of comrade in Syria

Three soldiers have been charged in the accidental death of a 101st Airborne Division trooper who died while deployed to Syria last year.

Only one of those soldiers has had his charges referred to trial at this time.

Spc. Jesse E. Spyker, 20, was charged with one specification of dereliction of duty, one specification of reckless endangerment, one specification of involuntary manslaughter and one specification of negligent homicide, according to Lt. Col. Charles Barrett, a 101st spokesman.

Spyker was arraigned Feb. 28, but a trial date has not been set by the military judge.

Sgt. Chance Siefert was also charged with five specifications of dereliction of duty, and Sgt. Timothy Tompkins was charged with four specifications of dereliction of duty.

Neither sergeant’s case has been referred to trial by the general court-martial convening authority, Barrett said. Unit affiliation and more information regarding the incident will be released if the charges move forward to trial, he added.

The charges come from the death of Pfc. Michael Thomason, who was killed in Kobani, Syria, on April 29, 2019, Task and Purpose first reported. None of the three soldiers could be immediately reached for comment.

Army officials declined to provide the soldiers’ charge sheets. The service’s regulation leaves it up to the commander’s discretion whether or not to release those documents, Barrett said.

In this case, the commander opted not to do so, citing the redactions that would be required and the fluid nature of the criminal case, he added.

“Up to a certain point, the charges can also be changed,” Barrett cautioned.

Thomason, 28, was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, at the time of his death. He was posted to Kobani, a city near the Syrian-Turkish border, at a time of heightened tensions with Turkey, local U.S. partner forces and other regional players.

Thomason’s sister, Amber Martinez, said in an interview with WJBK-TV in Detroit that her family was told by military officials her brother died in a non-combat shooting, but offered little else in terms of the details of the incident.

She said he was supposed to be on patrol at the time of his death.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect charges against two Army NCOs that have not yet been referred to court-martial.

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