The soldier who killed a St. Charles Green Beret in Tennessee was sentenced to four years in prison Tuesday, the maximum allowed for reckless homicide.
The sentence followed a jury verdict in August that stunned local police officials and family members of slain Sgt. 1st Class Frederic Nicholas “Nic” Moses.
Benjamin K. Schweitzer, who shot Moses five times, was tried for second-degree murder, but was found guilty of the lesser charge of reckless homicide. If he had been convicted of second-degree murder he faced a maximum sentence of 25 years.
At the trial, Schweitzer testified that he had taken ketamine, a general anesthesia and sedative, to sleep and thought Moses was an intruder when he shot him about 10:45 a.m. on March 15, 2012.
Schweitzer, 28, also was convicted of lesser charges related to a standoff with Clarksville, Tenn., police after he shot Moses. One officer was shot in the shoulder, and another narrowly escaped injury.
The jury found Schweitzer not guilty of two counts of attempted murder for shooting at police and instead found in favor of two misdemeanors — two counts of reckless endangerment. Schweitzer already was sentenced to time served for those offenses.
Schweitzer, a fellow Green Beret and medic, had been staying at the house Moses shared with several other soldiers in Clarksville.
Both men were assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Campbell, Ky., but they hadn’t met until shortly before the shooting, family members said.
Moses, a communications officer, had been deployed four times — three times to Iraq and once to Afghanistan. He had been stateside since March 5 for a short training course.
He graduated in 2003 from Duchesne High School in St. Charles. A year later, while a student at Missouri State University, he enlisted in the Army because he wanted to do something more significant with his life, family members said.
During his career in the Army, Moses received several commendations, including the Bronze Star Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and Army Achievement Medal.
At the sentencing Tuesday, Elizabeth Moses, the younger sister of Moses, cried as she read a letter expressing how her brother’s killing had affected her life.
“He was truly one in a million,” she said. “He had an addiction which I admired and strived to become just as infatuated with: Life. My brother was someone who truly seized the day and made the most of every moment he was given on Earth.”
Schweitzer apologized for his actions and asked Moses’ family for forgiveness.
“I just want to say I never thought any of this would happen, and I didn’t want any of this to happen, and I’m sorry,” he said.
The sentence was handed down by Judge John H. Gasaway.
Clarksville Police Chief Alonzo Ansley, who has been outspoken about the verdict, had mixed emotions when he heard the sentence.
“I didn’t agree with the verdict in the first place, so certainly I don’t agree with the sentence that came out of the verdict,” Ansley said. “But if the judge gave him the max — I guess that’s all he could do.”
The Leaf Chronicle newspaper contributed to this report.