Monday, July 15, 2002

John Walker Lindh Pleads Guilty

John Walker Lindh pleaded guilty today. Two charges, ten years maximum each. Consecutive sentences.

According to Pete Williams on MSNBC and CNN, Lindh has agreed to a 20 year sentence.

Eight counts were dismissed. He pleaded to supplying services to the Taliban, and carrying an explosive (a grenade) in commission of a felony. The Prosecutor said in a press conference after court that this means that he has pleaded guilty to being a foot soldier in the Taliban army and to carrying an explosive.

For those who want to compute the likely starting point for the sentence, check out the 2001 Sentencing U.S. Sentencing Guideline Manual which establish sentencing guidelines for these offenses. If he is agreeing to a twenty year sentence, then the guideline computations must equal or exceed ten years per count. A person can't be sentenced to more than the statutory maxium (here, ten years per count, consecutive, for a total maximum sentence of 20 years.)

The prosecutor said in his press conference after the plea that the parties stipulated to a 20 year sentence. He also said that the Government will forego trying to treat Lindh as an enemy combatant unless he again engages in terrorist activity after his release from prison.

Lindh will serve 85% of whatever sentence he gets. There is no parole in the federal system, but good time credits amount to 54 days a year off after the first year.

We think the first place to look for the plea agreement online is Findlaw. We can't really tell you what it means until we read it, so for now, you have the media and proseuction's take. The news networks shifted to covering the President in Alabama so the defense as of this writing has not yet spoken, and we turned off the tv. We have enjoyed covering this event live on this weblog, and will be providing more updates later, here and on CNN's TalkBack Live at 3 pm Eastern.

Update: Defense press conference--chief defense lawyer said the plea cleared him on any involvement in the murder of CIA Agent Spann, and that he pleaded guilty to being foot soldier in the Taliban. Lindh's dad said Lindh loves the United States and never once said anything against it. His mother, sister and brother were also on hand providing support.

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