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Soldiers Charged in Artillery Accident That Killed Three

October 21, 1989 GMT

FORT SILL, Okla. (AP) _ An artillery accident that killed three soldiers has been blamed on the use of too much powder, and two solidiers have been charged with negligent homicide and dereliction of duty, the Army said Friday.

The howitzer round strayed off target, and exploded behind a group of about 80 soldiers, who were standing in formation to leave a rifle range Sept. 27. Four of the 24 injured soldiers remained hospitalized Friday.

Sgt. Edward C. Tyler, 26, of Washington, D.C., and Spec. Nickoles W. Holly, 24, of Canton, Ohio, were charged in military court, said Fort Sill spokeswoman Sheila Samples.

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Tyler, a howitzer battery section chief, and Holly, a No. 2 cannoneer, are accused of using too much powder, which the Army said caused the 105mm howitzer round to land outside the designated impact area.

Ms. Samples said the amount of powder was not being released.

The stray round created a 2-foot wide, 1-foot deep crater behind the soldiers, who were in the seventh week of an eight-week training program at the sprawling Field Artillery Center in southwest Oklahoma.

Tyler and Holly were not in confinement Friday and were performing their duties, but they were not firing cannons, Ms. Samples said.

The charges were read to the men by their battery commander Wednesday. The case will be referred to Maj. Gen. Raphael J. Hallada, the Fort Sill commander, who will determine the disposition of charges.

If a general court-martial is convened, the maximum sentence the men could receive if convicted of dereliction of duty through negligence would be three months confinement and loss of three-fourths of their pay and allowances for three months, Ms. Samples said.

If convicted of negligent homicide, the maximum sentence would be a bad- conduct discharge, one year of confinement and total loss of pay and allowance for that year, she said.

If convicted of both charges, the maximum sentence would be a bad conduct discharge, 15 months confinement and total loss of pay and allowances, she said.