December 4, 2007
FORT LEWIS, Wash. (AP) — A Fort Lewis soldier has been charged with murder in the death of his platoon sergeant in Iraq, though military investigators do not think the killing was intentional, the Army said Tuesday.
Cpl. Timothy Ayers, 21, is accused of shooting Sgt. 1st Class David A. Cooper Jr., who died Sept. 5 in Baghdad. Cooper was 36.
Investigators believe Ayers discharged a pistol in "wanton disregard for human life" at Forward Operating Base Falcon.
A Fort Lewis spokesman said Army prosecutors do not believe the killing was premeditated or that Ayers intended to kill Cooper.
A pretrial hearing to determine whether there's evidence to support a court-martial is scheduled for Feb. 5 at Fort Lewis. It was not immediately clear if Ayers had an attorney.
When Cooper died, the Defense Department said only that he suffered a non-combat injury that was under investigation. The charge was filed Nov. 8. Fort Lewis released the information after The News Tribune of Tacoma inquired about the investigation.
Fort Lewis spokesman Joseph Piek declined Tuesday to provide other details.
Cooper and Ayers were part of the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, a unit of the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division that deployed to Iraq last April on a tour that is to last until this summer.
Piek said Ayers returned in October and has been assigned to his unit's rear detachment. He is not in custody.
Ayers, from Long Beach, Calif., joined the Army in 2004. He was on his first deployment.
Cooper, a native of State College, Pa., served four years in the Army Reserve and then 15 in active duty. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.