Soldier who paid to be shot not indicted
August 15, 2007
NEW YORK --A soldier who admitted paying someone $500 to shoot him in the leg so he could avoid another tour of duty in Iraq won't face felony charges, though his wife and the gunman were indicted by a grand jury.
"I was hoping for the best, but preparing myself for the worst," said Army Pvt. Jonathan Aponte, 21. "I went into the grand jury and told the truth, and I think they had sympathy for me."
Melvin Hernandez, a spokesman for the Bronx District Attorney's Office, said Wednesday that he could not comment on the grand jury decision.
Aponte was shot July 9, the day he was scheduled to return to duty. He first claimed he was shot by a robber but then changed his story under police questioning.
He told the officers he had joked with his wife about getting shot in the leg so he wouldn't have to return to Iraq and his wife apparently took him seriously: She said she knew someone who could do the job.
In an interview after his arrest, Aponte said his legal troubles were better than being shot at every day in Iraq. "Mentally I can't do it anymore. I can't handle it anymore," he said then. His attorney has said Aponte has post-traumatic stress disorder.
Aponte still faces misdemeanor charges, including false reporting, that could send him to jail for up to a year, and the Army could seek disciplinary action against him. His wife, Alexandra Gonzalez, 22, was indicted on felony assault charges, along with the gunman.
Aponte, who returned to Fort Hood, Texas, where he is on medical leave, declined to comment on the charges against his wife.
His attorney, Marty Goldberg, said the grand jury appeared to have a sympathetic side. "It would have been unduly harsh to indict him considering what he has already been through," he said.