Returning "Hero" From Iraq Kills Wife
Give him a medal for helping kill thousands of Iraqis. Then act surprised when he applies his military training, a.k.a. violent conflict resolution, to his domestic life. Of course, what is so "heroic" about the most powerful military in history invading and occupying a small and defenseless country?
Army Sergeant Charged in Wife's Death
TACOMA, Wash. - An Army sergeant who recently returned from a year in Iraq was charged Thursday with second-degree murder, accused of drowning his wife in a bathtub.
Sgt. James Pitts, 31, of Sheffield Lake, Ohio, pleaded not guilty a day after turning himself in to military authorities at Fort Lewis. Bail was set at $250,000.
A medical examiner said an autopsy on Tara Pitts, 28, showed she had a neck injury consistent with her husband's account of holding her head underwater, Pierce County prosecutor Dawn Farina said. She was found dead Wednesday in her Lakewood apartment.
Tara Pitts earlier this month had obtained a temporary restraining order against her husband.
James Pitts' brother and father said he returned from Iraq a changed man.
"Obviously it (Iraq) did something to him," brother Joshua Pitts told The Associated Press on Thursday from his Sheffield Lake home.
James Pitts, a sergeant first class who operated heavy equipment for the 555th Combat Engineer Group, apparently had an affair while deployed, and his wife reported it to the military and turned over letters from the other woman, his brother said.
"This has devastated me," Pitts' father, also named James, told KIRO-TV of Seattle. "My son called and said, 'I just killed my wife.' ... He's not my son anymore. I feel my son is still in Iraq. You can thank George W. Bush for this."
An after-hours call to the office of Kristin Hanna Slone, the public defender representing Pitts, was not immediately returned Thursday.
Fort Lewis civilian spokesman Jeff Young said Army personnel sent to combat receive help dealing with the stress of deployment.
The Army beefed up its postwar counseling programs after three soldiers from commando units at Fort Bragg, N.C., were accused of killing their wives in the summer of 2002 after returning from fighting in Afghanistan.
According to court papers, Pitts said he and his wife were in the bathroom of their apartment while their 9-year-old son, Joe, was at school. When his wife was turned away from him, he forced her head under water and held her there until she stopped fighting, according to the papers.
Then, "I didn't want Joe to see her that way so I dragged her to the bedroom and put her back in the bed," the prosecutor quoted Pitts as saying.
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