NEW YORK CITY — The second of eight soldiers to go on trial in the hazing suicide of Pvt. Danny Chen, a Chinatown native, brokered a plea deal Monday to avoid the most serious charge of negligent homicide and was booted from the Army.
Under the deal, Spc. Ryan Offutt also avoided reckless endangerment charges, pleading guilty to maltreatment and failure to adhere to an anti-hazing order, according to an Army official.
The move comes weeks after another solider, Sgt. Adam Holcomb, was given a wrist slap of 30 days confinement and avoided a dishonorable discharge after being tried on similar charges.
Offutt, 32, was sentenced Monday to six months in prison and will receive a bad conduct discharge.
He faced a maximum sentence of four years in military prison, said Thomas McCollum, the public affairs officer at the Ft. Bragg in North Carolina.
The 19-year-old Chen was found dead while on guard duty in Afghanistan on Oct. 3, 2011 with a self-inflicted bullet wound to the head. Offutt is one of numerous soldiers accused of hazing Chen in the weeks leading up to his death by using racial slurs against him and assaulting him.
Holcomb was convicted last month of two counts of maltreatment and one count of assault against Chen.
A rally was held in Chinatown’s Columbus Park to call for Holcomb's dishonorable discharge from the military. His current sentence includes a reduction in rank, a loss of one-month's pay totaling $1,181.55, and 30 days confinement.
Chen’s parents Yan Tao Chen and Su Zhen Chen, who live in the East Village, have attended both trials along with an entourage of supporters from New York City.