By RUSTY DENNEN
The second Fort Bragg soldier charged in the 2010 Iraq death of a Fredericksburg-area medic will plead guilty.
The Fayetteville Observer on Monday reported that Spc. Nicholas Bailey would enter a plea March 9 to involuntary manslaughter in the death of Spc. Morganne McBeth. He faces up to 10 years in prison, a dishonorable discharge and loss of all pay and allowances.
McBeth, 19, who grew up in Spotsylvania County, died in July 2010 at Al Asad Air Base in western Iraq.
Her father and stepmother, Leonard and Sylvia McBeth of Stafford County, could not be reached for comment on the plea.
Sylvia McBeth told The Free Lance–Star in January that the process had been confusing and difficult for the family, and that it appeared the Army had been “dragging it out.”
She said prosecutors with the 82nd Airborne Division had told them a plea deal was in the works.
Bailey, 23, of Pflugerville, Texas, was initially scheduled for court-martial last May. That trial was moved back to September, then postponed indefinitely due to ongoing deployments from the North Carolina base to Afghanistan.
Bailey was charged with negligent homicide, conspiracy to obstruct justice and giving false statements to investigators.
The Army initially reported that McBeth died in a non-combat-related incident. Then the family was given conflicting accounts of what happened—that she accidentally stabbed herself, and that she was accidentally stabbed by another soldier.
Several months later, the Army Criminal Investigation Command confirmed that a homicide investigation was under way.
Bailey and another soldier, Spc. Tyler Cain, 22, a North Carolina native, were charged in connection with the death, which has been described as both a tragic accident and a cover-up.
During his court-martial last April, Cain testified that he, McBeth and Bailey—all friends—were in a tent one night, and that McBeth and Bailey were throwing knives at a poster hanging on a tent wall.
Cain at first told investigators that McBeth was stabbed as Bailey pulled the knife from the poster.
He later admitted that he’d lied about that version, saying Bailey was wildly stabbing the poster with his and McBeth’s knives when McBeth walked up from behind and was struck.
Cain was sentenced to 45 days’ confinement and reduced in rank from E4 to E1.
Rusty Dennen: 540/374-5431