Bergdahl Arraigned on Desertion Charges, Defers Decision on Jury vs. Judge Trial 

click to enlarge U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. - U.S. ARMY
  • U.S. Army
  • U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl.

U.S. Army Sergeant and Idaho native Bowe Bergdahl walked into a Fort Bragg, N.C. courtroom Tuesday morning, appearing in a dark blue dress uniform.

He stood alongside U.S. Army lawyer, Lt. Col. Franklin Rosenblatt, and listened as Judge Col. Christopher Fredrikson told Bergdahl he has the option to have his court-martial trial decided by a judge or a jury of at least five military officers.

Bergdahl deferred the decision on his plea to a charge of desertion, and how his case might be decided. The Washington Post reports Bergdahl then left the North Carolina courthouse in a cold rain without taking any questions.

Bergdahl disappeared in June 2009 from a combat post in Paktika Province in eastern Afghanistan and was captured by the Taliban. He spent five years as a prisoner of war before he was freed in May 2014 following a prisoner swap that angered members of Congress and some members of his former unit. The Hailey native was released in exchange for five Taliban leaders held at Guantanamo Bay.

After an investigation into the circumstances of his capture, Bergdahl was charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. Following charges, Bergdahl's legal proceedings were far from over: A recommendation involving his case was forwarded to Gen. Robert Abrams, head of Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg, N.C. Earlier this  month, Abrams ordered the general court-martial proceedings, meaning Bergdahl, 29, faces a possible life sentence.

CNN reports approximately 50 people, an even split of journalists and military personnel, attended Tuesday's 11-minute proceeding.NBC News reports Judge Col. Jeffrey Nance will preside and oversee future hearings. 

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