A soldier was sentenced on Wednesday to 40 years in military prison after pleading guilty to fatally beating another soldier with a baseball bat at Fort Bliss. Pvt Deandrez Robertson admitted in a Fort Bliss court that he hit Pvt Pernell Robert Flowers II three times in July 2008. Robertson told a military judge he first knocked out Flowers' teeth, hit him again as he was falling and then hit him in the chest as he lay on the ground. Robertson said Flowers never saw the first swing coming.
Flowers died about seven months later.
The 40-year sentence came as part of a plea deal. The judge, Col. Ted Dixon, said Robertson will receive credit for 392 days already served.
Robertson earlier told Dixon his swings were "pretty, pretty, pretty good. I think he was disoriented, and he started to turn. And I hit him again, and he fell."
Capt. Brian Mathison, the prosecutor, said Robertson started plotting the attack after Flowers and two other soldiers identified Robertson as a man who had pointed a shotgun at them at an off-post convenience store a few days earlier.
Mathison told the judge that Robertson bragged about the shotgun incident and vowed to other soldiers to "beat down Private Flowers," and then flee the army.
Robertson was arrested in August on charges related to the baseball bat assault. He escaped from Fort Bliss in December with the help of a civilian and his Army girlfriend. He was arrested about a week later in Knoxville, Tennessee, and has remained in custody since.
Robertson pleaded guilty on Wednesday to unpremeditated murder, assault with an unloaded firearm, escape from confinement, conspiracy to escape and obstruction of justice. He could have been sentenced to life in prison without parole.