updated 3/11/2009 8:27:11 PM ET 2009-03-12T00:27:11

A sniper who pleaded guilty Wednesday to killing an officer in 1995 said he waited in a foxhole-like position for the morning fog to clear before firing into a crowd of 1,300 fellow soldiers, calling it "the right thing at the time."

Sgt. William J. Kreutzer Jr.'s explanation for the shooting that also wounded 18 fellow soldiers came just before he pleaded guilty to one count each of premeditated murder and attempted premeditated murder and 16 counts of aggravated assault under an agreement that will spare him the death penalty.

Kreutzer was sentenced to death in 1996, but an Army appellate court overturned the conviction, saying his defense lawyers were ineffective. He now faces up to life in prison.

Upset the day before shooting
Kreutzer told the judge, Col. Patrick Parrish, that he was upset the day before the Oct. 22, 1995, shooting because he had to use his own money to buy supplies for soldiers in his unit at Fort Bragg, a sprawling Army base in eastern North Carolina.

Kreutzer said he thought something drastic had to be done. He talked about how he selected guns, loaded them in the Towle Stadium parking lot and placed them in the trunk of his car. He said he tried to speak with a mental health professional at Womack Army Medical Center about what he'd planned to do, but no one was available.

The next morning, he said he found a foxhole-like position in a wooded area overlooking the stadium, then waited as fog cleared so he could see the soldiers warming up before their morning run.

Soldiers in sweat pants and shirts scattered for cover when the shooting started. Maj. Stephen Badger, an intelligence officer, was killed.

Plea came during pretrial hearing
Kreutzer's plea came during a pretrial hearing. Last week, the judge in the case ruled that Kreutzer was competent to again stand trial.

Defense attorneys had argued Kreutzer suffered from a personality disorder that makes him unable to show remorse.

Kreutzer's sentencing hearing was scheduled March 24.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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