The mother of a Massachusetts soldier shot by his roommate in Iraq in 2011 may find out in the next two weeks whether the shooter will be free on parole after serving just longer than a year at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Cheryl Ruggiero of Falmouth, Mass., met with the Army’s Clemency and Parole Board in Arlington, Va., on Thursday morning, telling the members she opposed the release of the soldier who shot her son, Sgt. Matthew Gallagher.
“They listened intently,” she said in an interview after the hearing. “They all apologized for what happened.”
Ruggiero said she believes the parole board took her concerns seriously. They expect to have a ruling in about two weeks, she said.
McBride’s father also testified at the hearing, but Military.com was not able to reach him for comment.
Gallagher died after being shot in the head by Sgt. Brent McBride, in what McBride claimed was a game of quick-draw gone bad. He told Army investigators he did not know his pistol was loaded when he pointed it and fired.
Gallagher and McBride were assigned to 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division, at Al Kut, Iraq, at the time of the incident. According to testimony reported during McBride’s trial, McBride ran from the small trailer-like room the two shared and told two staff sergeants that Gallagher was dead.
One of the staff sergeants testified that McBride asked if he would be shot, if he would go to jail and would the Army tell his father.
Referring to that testimony on Thursday after the hearing, Ruggiero said McBride made it all about himself even while her son bled to death.
McBride pleaded guilty at a Fort Hood, Texas, courts-martial in March 2012 to involuntary manslaughter after an original charge of homicide was reduced. Initially sentenced to four-and-a-half years, his sentenced was reduced on appeal to three years, making him eligible for parole.
In her statement to the board, Ruggiero said her son had a hard time “finding his way in life” until he joined the Army. It matured him, she wrote.
“He was accused of playing the game of quick. Matt, maybe, but Sgt. Gallagher would not have jeopardized his career by playing with a loaded weapon,” according to her statement, which she posted to her Facebook page.
Ruggiero said the board members told her they had read all the reports, so she assumes they are aware that Army investigators concluded the abrasion and soot residue on her son’s head indicated he was shot at close range. McBride initially told investigators he was about six feet from Gallagher when he fired.