NEW YORK CITY — An Army sergeant convicted of assaulting and racial slurring Chinatown solider Danny Chen, who committed suicide in Afghanistan, was hit with a 30-day sentence and will be allowed to remain in the military.
The first of eight soldiers to go on trial for alleged hazing suicide of Chen, Sgt. Adam Holcomb was acquitted of the top charges he faced, including negligent homicide, but he was convicted Monday of two counts of maltreatment and one count of assault.
Holcomb was sentenced Tuesday to confinement, a reduction in rank and lost a month's worth of pay, totaling $1,181.55, according to officials at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, where the trial took place.
The move outraged those close to Chen, who committed suicide on Oct. 3, 2011 at the age of 19 by shooting himself in the head in an Afghanistan guard tower.
"It sent a loud and clear message of how far we have to go," said Wellington Chen, the executive of the Chinese Benevolent Association in Chinatown and no relationship to the young solider. "This sets the tone for the rest of the trials."
He had attended the trial all of last week before leaving on Sunday and felt let down by the sentencing.
"For 19 years Danny was a pride and joy for Chinatown," said Chen, "He was bright, a good student humorous. He tired to do everything right. He served the country."
Wellington Chen is one of the many members of New York’s Chinese community who helped push the case case into the national media spotlight.
Holcomb was found guilty of dragging Chen across a gravel path and calling him racially charged names such as "Dragonlady" and "Egg Roll."
The trial brought to light many previously unknown facts about the case, including a suicide note that was written on his left arm in black marker.
"Tell my parents I'm sorry," the message read, according to the Daily News. "Veggie — pull the plug."
The proceedings also revealed that a transfer for Chen had been scheduled for as early as Oct. 4, 2011, according to the New York Times.
However, the day before, Chen killed himself.
An officer who testified at the trial, Capt. Sean Allred, said Chen's planned transfer had been arranged because the solider had been "struggling to satisfy his responsibilities as an infantryman," the Times reported.
In the first day of the trial last Tuesday, Chen's mother and East Village resident, Su Zhen Chen, reportedly took the stand denying she disowned her son for joining the military.
"He was the best son in the world for me," she said through a translator, according to the New York Times.
"We had a very good relationship," she said.
Seven others accused of contributing to Chen's suicide will be tried throughout the rest of the year.