Soldier pleads guilty to killing colleague

FORT BRAGG Edward Patino's lawyers confirmed the 29-year-old soldier's plea was filed Tuesday.

His defense attorneys had no comment, but ABC11 Eyewitness News has learned Patino accepted a plea bargain deal from prosecutors.

In 2008, 23-year-old Army Spec. Megan Touma was found murdered in her Fayetteville motel room.

Police say was carrying Patino's child.

A month after her death, Patino was arrested for murder. Investigators said he and Touma were stationed together in Germany.

She followed Patino to Fort Bragg, but investigators say Touma did not know he was married.

The case turned bizarre when investigators received a typed letter with a killer's symbol and the words, "I'm responsible for the dead body at the motel."

Investigators traced the letter to a typewriter purchased by Patino at a pawn shop days after the killing. They say he wrote the letter attempting to mislead police.

Touma had been stationed at Fort Bragg for less than two weeks before her death. For days her whereabouts were unknown.

After her murder, Army officials reviewed and changed policies so that group commanders could keep better tabs on new soldiers arriving on post.

At Patino's hearing, he pleaded guilty to 2nd degree murder and was sentenced to between 16 and 20 years in prison.

He was given credit for the time he served in jail without bond since his arrest in July 2008.

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