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11 years for soldier who pleaded guilty to chemical weapon

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — A federal judge has sentenced a soldier to more than 11 years in prison for making bombs that released chlorine gas and injured two Army investigators near a base in Louisiana.

Two investigators inhaled chlorine gas, “and effectively ended their military careers,” according to a Justice Department news release Tuesday about 24-year-old Ryan Keith Taylor’s sentencing.

Taylor, of New Llano, Louisiana, pleaded guilty in June to the single count of using a chemical weapon, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey sentenced him Monday in Lafayette to 11 years and 3 months in prison, plus five years’ supervised release.

“Today’s sentence holds Taylor accountable for his crime and makes clear that we will not tolerate such conduct,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said in the news release.

When he pleaded guilty, Taylor also signed a statement saying that he set off the device on April 12, 2017, in an Army training area in the Kisatchie National Forest near Fort Polk. Three soldiers heard the explosions; one of them found Taylor taking video on his cellphone.

They reported the incident to military police. One of the injured investigators had filled a plastic bag with rocks coated with an unknown substance, according to a document that served as the factual basis for Taylor’s guilty plea. The bag popped, and the investigator’s latex gloves began to melt. The investigator “quickly experienced difficulty breathing and felt his skin burning,” the document said.

“During the course of the investigation, law enforcement agents found bomb-making notes, materials and chemical residue in Taylor’s vehicle, apartment and storage building,” Tuesday’s news release said.

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