SAVANNAH, Ga. — An Army soldier accused of funding an anti-government militia group with more than $500,000 in insurance and benefit payments from the death of his pregnant wife will face a court-martial on charges that he murdered her, Fort Stewart officials said Wednesday.
Military authorities say Sgt. Deirdre Aguigui struggled violently against handcuffs cutting into her wrists before she died in July 2011 from a lack of oxygen, likely because she was being held in a chokehold. Her husband, Army Pvt. Isaac Aguigui, has already pleaded guilty to two unrelated counts of murder two months ago in a Georgia civilian court, where he avoided the death penalty by agreeing to serve life in prison without parole.
Commanders at Fort Stewart, where Aguigui and his wife were stationed in southeast Georgia, still opted to pursue a court-martial for the 22-year-old soldier in his wife’s death based on evidence presented at a preliminary hearing barely two weeks before Aguigui pleaded guilty in Long County Superior Court.
Fort Stewart spokesman Kevin Larson said Wednesday commanders decided not to seek the death penalty for Aguigui of Cashmere, Wash. If convicted of premeditated murder, he would automatically face another life sentence — either with or without the possibility of parole. His military trial has been scheduled to begin Jan. 21.
“I’m just waiting for the trial to be done with it,” said Alma Wetzker, the father of Deirdre Aguigui. “I’m just looking to get this behind us and move on.”
Deirdre Aguigui, 24, was about midway through her pregnancy when she was found dead July 17, 2011, in the apartment she shared with her husband.
Army investigators took 21 months to charge Aguigui with killing his wife. By the time they did, he was already jailed in connection with a double-slaying that occurred months after his wife died.