FORT CARSON, Colo. (AP) — A weeping Army sergeant on Thursday apologized to the family of a female soldier he admitted killing, after a military panel convicted him of unpremeditated murder and sentenced him to life in prison.
Sgt. Vincinte Jackson said he doesn't know why he killed Spc. Brandy Fonteneaux, 28, of Houston. She was found dead Jan. 8 in her barracks room, stabbed 74 times. A military panel sentenced Jackson to life in prison with the possibility of parole, though prosecutors couldn't immediately say how many years he would serve before becoming eligible.
"I will be forever haunted by what happened," Jackson said. " ... It's only fair that I continue to have nightmares about what I've done."
His testimony came at the end of an emotional sentencing hearing that included statements from the families of Jackson and Fonteneaux.
The same panel of eight soldiers who convicted Jackson decided his sentence. The potential sentence for unpremeditated murder ranged from no punishment to life in prison without parole.
The panel — the equivalent of a jury in a civilian trial — convicted Jackson earlier Thursday after 2 1/2 hours of deliberations. It acquitted Jackson of premeditated murder, which carries a sentence of up to life in prison without parole.
Prosecutors asked for life without parole, while Jackson's defense attorneys asked for 28 years.
Jackson's parents, seated in the gallery, linked arms as the sentence was read late Thursday. They then left without comment.
Fontenaux's mother, Verona Fonteneaux, and other members of her family said the sentence was fair.
"I think I can get my life back together," Verona Fonteneaux said. "I can tell my grandkids that they've put the bad man away."
At the end of the court-martial, Capt. Jeremy Horn, one of Jackson's defense lawyers, told the panel that a combination of heavy drinking and a prescription antidepressant left Jackson unable to control his own actions or form any kind of plan to commit murder.
There was some testimony that Jackson was an alcoholic. But Horn said Jackson was only an occasional drinker and that he downed three-quarters of a bottle of whiskey the night before Fonteneaux's death. He said Jackson was trying doors in a corridor and walked in Fonteneaux's barracks room because it was unlocked.