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Two accused soldiers to go before military court

By Staff | Feb 1, 2011

The last two soldiers accused of murdering Afghan civilians will go before a military court for trial, according to information recently released.
The general court-martial convening authority referred court-martial charges against Spc. Michael S. Wagnon II of Las Vegas, Nev., and Pvt. 1st Class Andrew H. Holmes of Boise, Idaho, to a general court-martial, military officials at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington reported.
“Joint Base Lewis-McChord officials emphasize that the charges are merely an accusation and that the accused is presumed innocent until prove guilty,” Maj. Kathleen Turner, a base spokeswoman, wrote in a prepared statement.
Wagnon is facing one specification each of premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit assault consummated by battery and committing assault with a dangerous weapon.
He faces a maximum punishment of imprisonment for life without parole, Turner reported. Two specifications of conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline were dismissed by the general court-martial convening authority.
Holmes is facing one specification each of premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit premeditated murder, conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline, violating a lawful general order and wrongfully using a controlled substance.
A military judge will arraign the two and set dates for potential motion hearings and the trial, Turned reported. No dates had been set Tuesday.
U.S. military announced in May that five soldiers, including one from Cape Coral, had been implicated in the deaths of three Afghan civilians. Officials reported that the murders took place between January and May of 2010.
All five soldiers were assigned to B Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.
Cape resident Spc. Adam C. 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 the charge sheets.
Holmes is accused of killing Gul Mudin in the same manner on or about Jan. 31.
The charge sheets state that Wagnon killed Marach Agha by shooting him with a rifle on or about Feb. 22. Wagnon also reportedly obtained a hard drive containing evidence of the murders and asked another soldier to erase it.
Spc. Jeremy Morlock of Wasilla, Alaska, became the first soldier out of the five to have court-martial charges referred against him on Oct. 15. On Dec. 3, Winfield became the second one to be referred for court-martial charges.
Morlock is facing three specifications of premeditated murder and one specification each of assault, conspiracy to commit premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit assault and battery, wrongfully endeavoring to impede an investigation, violating a lawful general order and wrongfully using a controlled substance.
Winfield is facing one specification each of premeditated murder, committing an assault with a dangerous weapon, conspiracy to commit premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon and wrongfully using a controlled substance.
They each face a maximum punishment of imprisonment for life without parole, Turner reported. Both have been arraigned and are awaiting trial.
Also accused in connection to the murders is Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs of Billings, Mont. Court-martial charges were referred against him on Jan. 11.
Gibbs is facing three specifications of premeditated murder, along with two specifications each of conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline, wrongfully endeavoring to impede an investigation and dereliction of duty.
He also faces one specification each of unlawfully striking another soldier, committing an assault with a dangerous weapon, conspiracy to commit premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit assault consummated by battery, conspiracy to commit aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon, wrongfully communicating a threat to injure and violating a general order.
Turner reported that Gibbs faces a maximum punishment of imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole if he is convicted on all the charges.
As of Tuesday, Gibbs was awaiting trial.