Soldier Jailed for 17 years after Pleading Guilty; Brutally Killed a Child while Stationed in Texas

A soldier at Fort Bliss, Texas, pleaded guilty Thursday to murder for the death of a child. The soldier was given 17 years in jail and was discharged without honor, according to officials at the base.

According to an Army charging sheet, Sgt. Justin Cope was charged with the death of a child in El Paso, which is the city outside of Fort Bliss in West Texas. He was demoted to the rank of E-1 during the sentence. Police say the child’s head was hurt and that he or she was squished or shaken on or around February 10, 2019.

Maj. Jessica Rovero, a spokesperson for the 1st Armored Division at Fort Bliss, said that Cope also admitted to two counts of assault completed by battery. According to court papers, Cope hit a second child in the head by squeezing her face and shaking her body in Wiesau, Germany, in December 2017. The charge sheet doesn’t list the victims’ names, but it does say that they were younger than 16 years old.

Online court records show that the plea was accepted Thursday by military judge Col. Michael Friess of the 5th Judicial Circuit. Cope was charged in October 2020, according to court records. He is part of the division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team. The hearing was supposed to happen in 2022, but it was pushed back.

Rovero wouldn’t say anything about why the delay happened. In 2022, the El Paso Police Department said they looked into the death but did not make an arrest. The case was then turned over to the Army Criminal Investigation Division.

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