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Defense to conduct investigation into civilian death, charge

By Staff | Jun 19, 2010

As a soldier from Cape Coral remains confined at a military base on one count of premeditated murder, his attorney’s law firm has begun an investigation into the charge.
Spc. Adam Winfield, 21, is charged with one specification of premeditated murder under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Article 118, in the death of an Afghan civilian. Winfield is accused of killing Mullah Adahdad by throwing a grenade at him and shooting him with a rifle on or about May 2, according to his charge sheet.
Winfield was charged Tuesday, after he returned to the Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington on Monday. He is being held in pretrial confinement at the based until he goes before a magistrate, who will determine if Winfield will remain confined. The magistrate has a seven-day window to see him.
“He is still in pretrial confinement,” Lt. Col. Tamara Parker, spokeswoman for Joint Base Lewis-McChord, said on Friday afternoon. “So by Monday, no later than Tuesday morning, we should know what the magistrate says.”
In the meantime, the Law Firm of Puckett & Faraj has released a statement acknowledging that it has undertaken representation of Winfield in the charge of “premeditated murder in connection with the death of an Afghan citizen in (the) Kandahar Province” in May. The firm is conducting an investigation, but it is not immediately prepared to comment on the case.
“However we anticipate being prepared to comment as early as the first week in July,” the statement reports.
Winfield’s parents “are not speaking publicly about their son or the charge pending against him,” according to the statement. Attorneys Neal A. Puckett and Eric S. Montalvo will represent Winfield in all future justice proceedings.
“Eric is speaking for Adam, as well as the family,” Winfield’s mother, Emma, said Thursday.
Montalvo was out of the office Thursday and Friday, an employee at the law firm reported. Montalvo did not return a message left seeking additional comment.
According to Parker, officials must decide if an Article 32 investigation will be conducted. An investigator then will offer a recommendation on whether to court martial Winfield, and if the case should be tried as a 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.”
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. Pvt. 1st Class Andrew Holmes, 19, of Boise, Idaho, and Specialist Michael Wagnon, 29, of Las Vegas, Nev., also were charged Tuesday with premeditated murder.
“They were each charged in a separate incident,” Parker said.
According to the charge sheets, Holmes is accused of killing Gul Mudin by throwing a grenade at him and shooting him with a rifle on or about Jan. 31. Wagnon is charged with killing Marach Agha by shooting him with a rifle on or about Feb. 22. He also is charged with impeding a criminal investigation.
The charge sheets state that Wagnon obtained a hard drive which contained evidence of the murders, and asked another soldier to erase the hard drive.
Also charged in connection to the deaths was Spc. Jeremy Morlock, 22, of Wasilla, Alaska, and Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, 25, of Billings, Mont. Morlock and Gibbs each are facing three specifications of premeditated murder — one for each death — and one specification of assault, the charge sheets state.
“All five are now here and all are in pretrial confinement,” Parker said.
She added that she cannot discuss the details of the allegations.
“I can just say the charge of premeditation implicitly alleges that the murders were the result of forethought and planning,” Parker said.
The Army’s Criminal Investigation Command initiated an investigation after receiving credible information from the soldier’s unit in early May, she said. All five are assigned to B Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.
“No one was aware of the instances that happened in January and February until then,” Parker said. “That’s when the investigation started and that’s when all three instances were discovered.”
According to officials, Winfield is an infantryman. He entered the military in July 2006. After initial entry training and advanced individual training at Fort Benning, Ga., he reported to Joint Base Lewis-McChord in April 2007. His unit was deployed to Afghanistan in July to support Operation Enduring Freedom.
This was Winfield’s only deployment, officials reported.