A soldier named as a key witness by the prosecution has backed out of a plea deal previously made to testify against another soldier in the death of a fellow Iraq war veteran.
Bruce Bastien Jr. could face first-degree murder charges after his attorneys told a judge Wednesday that Bastien is refusing to testify against alleged trigger man Louis Bressler.
Bastien had pleaded guilty to accessory to murder in the slaying of SPC. Kevin Shields on December 1, 2007. Bastien is claiming his Fifth Amendment right, not to be forced in a criminal case to be a witness against himself.
Prosecutors say they have not decided whether to refile murder charges against Bastien but they are hoping the judge will make him take the stand and plead the Fifth, instead of doing it behind closed doors.
The judge has not ruled yet how to proceed with Bastien's previous plea deal.
Another soldier, Kenneth Eastridge, did testify against Bressler Wednesday. He talked about what he saw the night of the murder and how he helped Bressler get rid of his bloody shirt and shoes as well as well as the weapon, a couple days after the shooting. Eastridge is serving a 10-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to accessory to murder.
Bressler's attorneys say Bressler is being framed.
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