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Winder soldier to face third-degree murder charges

WINDER - A Winder soldier accused of killing a detainee in Iraq will face third-degree murder charges, despite a military investigator's recommendation that those charges be dropped.

The Army might be using Spc. Christopher Shore, 25, of Winder and other soldiers as scapegoats to satisfy world opinion about the U.S. presence in Iraq, Sen. John Douglas, R-Social Circle, said.

"I am concerned because there is a number of these high profile cases coming out of Iraq and it appears there is a good degree of trying to sacrifice some of our guys in order to satisfy world opinion," Douglas said.

In an Article 32 hearing last month, Lt. Col. Raul Gonzalez recommended that Shore be court-martialed for aggravated assault instead of murder.

But on Tuesday, Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, commander of the Hawaii-based 25th Infantry Division, announced his approval for a third-degree murder trial.

Shore and his platoon sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class Trey A. Corrales of San Antonio, were accused of killing an Iraqi detainee during a nighttime raid in a village near Kirkuk in Northern Iraq.

Shore testified that when Corrales ordered him to "finish off" the Iraqi man who was already mortally wounded, he turned his gun to the side and fired, missing the man.

Shore and his fellow soldiers later went forward with the information about Corrales.

The family who thought their brother and son might have the ordeal behind him now face a bleak Christmas.

"Even if he has to go through this, the Lord is going to watch over him," said Debra Kessler, of Winder, Shore's mother.

His father, Brian Shore, of Lawrenceville, isn't feeling so generous.

"It makes me mad," he said. "I have no use for the Army anymore. They are already trying to get him to plea to a lesser charge, but he won't be intimidated."

Douglas, a retired Army major and chairman of veteran's and military affairs for the state Senate, is disappointed in his former classmate's decision.

"I was very disappointed that Gen. Mixon, who was my classmate at North Georgia College, made the decision to go forward with the court martial," said Douglas. "He's better off not to plea. I think the Army is backing themselves into a corner on this thing. I don't believe they can get a conviction on third degree murder, so they want him to plead to a lesser charge to avoid looking foolish."

Meanwhile, Shore waits in Hawaii for the end of the ordeal.

"He is angry with it," Brian Shore said. "He had hoped to put life together and go on. He was home on leave last month and he hoped it was all over. He was planning on moving his wife and kids to Hawaii with him. But it came back like a phoenix out of the ashes."

Shore has amassed $35,000 in legal fees, Brian Shore said.