Soldier from Cape Coral among five accused of murder
A Cape Coral man is one of five U.S. soldiers accused of premeditated murder in the deaths of Afghan civilians, according to military officials.
Spc. Adam Winfield, 21, is charged with one specification of murder under Uniform Code of Military Justice, Article 118 — premeditated murder. He was charged Tuesday after he returned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord on Monday. Winfield is being held in pretrial confinement, officials reported.
Also charged Tuesday were Pvt. 1st Class Andrew Holmes, 19, of Boise, Idaho, and Specialist Michael Wagnon, 29, of Las Vegas, Nev. Each is facing one specification of murder under Uniform Code of Military Justice, Article 118 — premeditated murder. They also remain in pretrial confinement.
“We’re still at the very beginning of a criminal investigation,” Lt. Col. Tamara Parker, a spokeswoman for Joint Base Lewis-McChord, said. “We expect each case to be handled differently.”
On May 20, U.S. forces announced that five soldiers had been implicated in the alleged murders of three Afghan civilians between January and May. The deaths were different occurrences, and Winfield, Holmes and Wagnon are each suspected in separate incidences, according to military officials.
“The were each charged in a separate incident,” Parker said.
Spc. Jeremy Morlock was charged on June 4 with three specifications of premeditated murder and one specification of assault. He is being held in pretrial confinement at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The fifth soldier, Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, 25, was charged on June 8 in Kuwait on the same charges.
Gibbs is expected to arrive at Joint Base Lewis-McChord within days.
The three civilians killed near the Army’s Forward Operating Base Ramrod in southern Afghanistan are identified as Gul Mudin, who died sometime in January; Marach Agha, killed on or about Feb. 22; and Mullah Adahdad, killed on or around May 2, according to the Associated Press.
The charging sheets, with the names of the accusers and officers involved blanked out, say Morlock and Gibbs shot Agha and used fragmentary grenades and their rifles to kill Mudin and Adahdad.
Holmes is accused of throwing a grenade at and shooting Mudin, Winfield of doing the same to Adahdad, and Wagnon of shooting Agha.
Wagnon is further accused of impeding a criminal investigation by asking another soldier to erase a computer hard drive that contained evidence of the killings, the Associated Press reported.
“Each soldier will be appointed or assigned trial defense counsel to represent them,” Parker said.
According to Parker, Winfield will go before a magistrate in the next few days who will determine if Winfield will remain in pretrial confinement. Officials then will decide if an Article 32 investigation will be held.
An investigator next offers a recommendation on court martial and possible capital case.
“If a person were to be convicted, that Article carries a maximum penalty of life in prison,” she said. “Or, if tried as a capital case, it would carry a maximum penalty of death.”
Winfield is an infantryman. He entered the military in July 2006, according to military officials. After initial entry training and advanced individual training at Fort Benning, Ga., he reported to Joint Base Lewis-McChord in April 2007.
Winfield, and the other four, are assigned to B Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. They were deployed to Afghanistan in July in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. This was Winfield’s only deployment, military officials reported.
— The charge sheet information in this story is as reported by the Associated Press