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Lieutenant Charged in Danny Chen Death Next to Face Afghanistan Hearing

By Patrick Hedlund | February 7, 2012 1:41pm
Pvt. Danny Chen's mom fixes his shoulder cord in Ft. Benning, GA.
Pvt. Danny Chen's mom fixes his shoulder cord in Ft. Benning, GA.
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Facebook/Justice for Pvt. Danny Chen

MANHATTAN — The third of eight soldiers accused in the bullying death of Army Pvt. Danny Chen is set to face a pretrial hearing Wednesday in Afghanistan.

The hearing will determine whether Lt. Daniel Schwartz, 25, will face a court-martial on eight charges of dereliction of duty in the Chinatown native’s apparent suicide on Oct. 3, military officials said.

The Article 32 hearing is similar to a grand jury in that it determines whether there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed.

Chen, 19, was found with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head in a guard tower near his Afghanistan base.

Military officials informed Chen’s family that the solider suffered a pattern of physical abuse and racial taunting during his deployment, including having rocks thrown at him by fellow soldiers and being the subject of racial insults due to his Chinese heritage.

Army investigators already recommended that Spc. Ryan Offutt face trial on negligent homicide charges, though they declined to pursue more serious manslaughter charges against the 32-year-old.

The Article 32 hearing for Sgt. Travis Carden, 25, who is facing maltreatment and assault charges in Chen’s death, started on Monday in Afghanistan and is ongoing, military officials said.

Schwartz, a Maryland native, is one of only three soldiers in Chen’s unit who did not face homicide and manslaughter charges in the teen’s death.

He joined the Army in 2009 and was assigned to Chen’s unit in July 2010 for his first deployment.

Hearings for the remaining five soldiers are scheduled to take place from now until Feb. 20.

State Sen. Daniel Squadron, who represents the Downtown neighborhood where Chen grew up, spoke about the soldier on the Senate floor Tuesday in Albany regarding a legislative resolution mourning the teen.

"The tragedy that befell him, the experience that he had serving our country, is one that no person in this country should ever have, period," Squadron said.

"What those who hazed Danny Chen did is they disrespected every one of their brothers and sisters in the armed forces," he added.