Soldier Rejects Plea Deal

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A Fort Carson-based soldier backed out of a plea deal Tuesday and pleaded not guilty to killing an Iraqi civilian while searching for insurgents in Iraq who'd attacked a U.S. base north of Baghdad.

Staff Sergeant Shane Werst also pleaded not guilty to obstruction of justice for allegedly lying to his superiors about how Naser Ismail died in January 2004. The hearing is being held at Fort Hood in Texas.

If convicted, Werst could be sentenced to life in a military prison without parole. A court-martial is set for May 23rd.

Werst was a combat engineer with the Third Brigade Combat Team at Fort Carson, an Army base near Colorado Springs. The unit is part of the Fort Hood-based Fourth Infantry Division.

Neither Werst nor his attorneys would comment today. In court, Werst said he wanted a trial before a military jury rather than a judge.