US Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has received a dishonorable discharge but will avoid prison time for desertion and misbehavior before the enemy after abandoning his outpost in 2009, a military judge ruled Friday.
He originally faced the possibility of life in prison, but the prosecution asked the judge, Army Col. Jeffery R. Nance, for a 14-year sentence. Bergdahl’s attorneys asked Col. Nance for a punishment of dishonorable discharge. Bergdahl previously chose to be tried by a military judge instead of a jury.
Soldiers who searched for Bergdahl after he deserted were called to testify by the prosecution and shared stories of the grueling conditions they endured while looking for him. Retired Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer James Hatch testified last Wednesday that he and his dog came under fire while looking for Bergdahl. He was shot in the leg, and his K-9 partner, Remco, was shot in the face and killed.
Last year Trump called for Bergdahl’s execution, mimicking a firing squad when speaking to a rally crowd in Indiana. The judge in Bergdahl’s case said he would take Trump’s comments into consideration when deciding on Bergdahl’s fate.