Bergdahl chooses to have trial heard by judge and not jury

RALEIGH, N.C. — Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has decided be to tried by a judge, not a military jury, on charges that he endangered comrades by walking off his post in Afghanistan.

Bergdahl’s lawyers told the court in a brief filing last week that their client chose trial by judge alone, rather than a panel of officers. He faces charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy at his trial scheduled for late October at Fort Bragg. The latter carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Defense lawyers declined to comment on the decision. But they previously questioned whether Bergdahl could get a fair trial by jury because of comments President Trump made on the campaign trail.


Earlier this year the judge, Army Colonel Jeffery R. Nance, rejected a defense request to dismiss the case over Trump’s criticism of Bergdahl.

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Potential jurors had already received a questionnaire including questions about their commander in chief, but defense lawyers weren’t allowed to ask jurors if they voted for Trump.

Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban shortly after he left his remote post in 2009.