Judge denies request for soldier’s release from pre-trial confinement
A military judge has denied a motion to release from pre-trial confinement a Cape Coral soldier who has been accused of murdering Afghan civilians.
On Wednesday, the judge denied the motion for Spc. Adam C. Winfield.
“Today’s court decision to continue the pre-trial confinement of Spc. Winfield comes after the court weighed the evidence and determined that the defendant is either a flight risk or will conduct serious misconduct in society,” Maj. Chris Ophardt, with the Public Affairs Office at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington, wrote in a prepared Army statement.
“In order to maintain the integrity of this case and the continuous investigation, we will not speculate further on this case,” he continued.
In May 2010, the military reported that several soldiers, including Winfield, had been implicated in the deaths of three Afghan civilians. Officials said the murders took place as separate incidents during the first half of the year.
Nearly all of those allegedly involved were placed in pre-trial confinement.
Winfield’s father expressed disappointment Thursday over the denial.
“Of course we’re disappointed because the other two were let out under similar circumstances,” Christopher Winfield said. “But we’re hopeful that will change soon and Adam will be given another opportunity to be released.”
Winfield was the third soldier to request an end to his confinement.
Spc. Michael S. Wagnon II of Las Vegas, Nev., and Pvt. 1st Class Andrew H. Holmes of Boise, Idaho, have each been released with a monitoring device.
Christopher Winfield explained that as different testimony and eyewitness statements come in, the holding status of his son could change.
“Situations and circumstances are changing on a daily basis,” he said, adding that this is a drawn-out process. “It’s just a stumbling block for the time.”
“We haven’t given up any hope that he’s going to be let out,” he added.
Christopher Winfield noted that an Article 32 — an investigative-type of hearing that determines one’s charges — was recently reopened and held for Wagnon, and that the legitimacy of one soldier’s statement is questionable.
He said his son maintains that he did not shoot any Afghan civilians.
“He swears to this day that he didn’t shoot anybody, that he aimed high,” Christopher Winfield said, adding that this will be proven in court.
The tentative court-martial, or trial, dates for Winfield are Sept. 7-9.
He is charged with 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.
Winfield faces a maximum punishment of imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole if convicted on all charges, according to officials.
Facing the same punishment is Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, of Billings, Mont.
Gibbs is also another soldier who remains in pre-trial confinement.
He faces 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.
Gibbs was also charged with 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.
He has been called by some as the ringleader behind the alleged murders.
As of Thursday, Gibbs’ tentative court-martial dates were Oct 3-7.
Wagnon was charged with 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.
Ophardt stated Thursday that Wagnon’s Article 32 reopener was held on Monday and Tuesday and that a decision is not expected for a couple weeks.
Holmes was charged with 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.
He had an Article 32 reopener last month.
According to Ophardt, as of Thursday the investigating officer had handed his or her recommendations over to the command staff, which had not made any decisions. The officer can suggest continuing with the case as is, or recommend changes to the charges. The command staff has the final say.
If the command staff’s final decision is to continue forward as is, the tentative court-martial dates for Holmes are scheduled for Sept. 19-23.
Also charged was Staff Sgt. David Bram of Vacaville, Calif.
He initially faced one specification each of conspiracy to commit assault and battery, unlawfully striking another soldier, violating a lawful general order, dereliction of duty, cruelty and maltreatment and wrongfully endeavoring to impede an investigation.
Bram was additionally charged with one specification each of solicitation to commit premeditated murder, aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon, failure to report crimes including murder, unlawfully engaging in murder scenario conversations with subordinates and planting evidence near the body of an Afghan national.
His Article 32 was held last week and no decision had been made as of Thursday, according to Ophardt.
In March, Spc. Jeremy Morlock of Wasilla, Alaska, pleaded guilty to three specifications of premeditated murder, among others, in a deal that included testifying against his co-defendants. Morlock received 24 years in prison.