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Report: U.S. soldier pleads guilty to killing 5 comrades in Iraq 'out of rage'

By CNN Staff
April 23, 2013 -- Updated 0251 GMT (1051 HKT)
Sgt. John Russell Russell, a communications specialist, was on his third deployment to Iraq.
Sgt. John Russell Russell, a communications specialist, was on his third deployment to Iraq.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Army Sgt. John Russell admitted to the May 11, 2009, killings in Iraq
  • Russell, 48, told the court he "did it out of rage," The News Tribune of Tacoma reported
  • A May 6 hearing has been scheduled to determine whether the killings were premeditated

(CNN) -- A U.S. Army sergeant pleaded guilty Monday to gunning down five fellow service members at a combat stress clinic in Iraq after military prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty.

Sgt. John Russell admitted to the May 11, 2009, killings at Baghdad's Camp Liberty, telling a Joint Base Lewis-McChord court that he "did it out of rage," according to The News Tribune of Tacoma.

The court scheduled a May 6 hearing to determine whether Russell committed the slayings with premeditation, which the 48-year-old soldier has disputed. The outcome will determine whether Russell is sentenced to life without parole or given a lesser sentence.

As part of the plea agreement, Russell described to the court how he killed Navy Cmdr. Charles Springle, Army Maj. Matthew Houseal, Sgt. Christian Bueno-Galdos, Spec. Jacob Barton and Pfc. Michael Yates Jr.

It was the first time Russell has publicly detailed what happened at the combat stress clinic.

Russell, a communications specialist, was on his third deployment to Iraq.

His attorneys have argued Russell suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and a brain injury from previous combat, which make him not fully responsible for the killings.

CNN's Chelsea J. Carter contributed to this report.

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