The Army has denied a parole bid for a soldier jailed at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, for the 2011 shooting death of his roommate in Iraq.
Sgt. Brent McBride pleaded guilty at a Fort Hood, Texas, court martial in March 2012 to involuntary manslaughter in the death of Sgt. Matthew Gallagher. McBride, who claimed the death resulted from a game of quick-draw gone bad, became eligible for parole after one year when his initial four and a half year sentence was reduced on appeal to three years.
Gallagher's mother, Cheryl Ruggiero of Falmouth, Mass., said she learned May 16 that the parole board rejected McBride's application for parole, and that Secretary of the Army John McHugh denied a request for clemency. She said a victim-witness officer also told her McBride has filed an appeal of that rejection, but she does not know when that will be acted on.
"He [the official] told me it doesn't go again before the parole board," Ruggiero said. "McBride puts together a packet and it, along with our statements, goes to a representative involved with parole and he makes a decision."
A Department of the Army spokesman told Military.com the Army could not comment on the parole board's actions or the appeals process, and that any information would be provided only to Gallagher's family through the victim-witness officer.
McBride's parents, C.J. and Gigi McBride, pastors at the Abiding Love Fellowship Church in Foley, Ala., did not respond to Military.com's request for comment.
Ruggiero and McBride's father both testified last month before the parole board in Arlington, Va.
Gallagher died after McBride shot him in the head with a pistol. McBride told investigators the two were playing a game of quick draw and that he did not know his gun was loaded. The men 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.
In his statements, McBride claimed he was about six feet from Gallagher when he fired, though Army investigators determined from the abrasion and soot residue on the dead man's head that he had been shot at close range.
In a Facebook posting after she heard of the parole board's decision May 16, Ruggiero said she told the victim-witness officer that "people lie, forensics conducted by … the Army do not. That boy (McBride) committed murder and is getting away with it. I told [the officer] I wouldn't hesitate if I believed I could get away with it also. He got quiet and said he was trying to put himself in my shoes. Good luck."