Military officials re-examining charges against solder accused of killing Afghan civilians
Military officials are once again re-examining charges filed against one of several U.S. soldiers accused of murdering Afghan civilians last year.
An Article 32 reopener hearing began today for Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs,of Billings, Mont. During the hearing, which is scheduled for two days, additional evidence in the case will be examined and additional testimony will be heard.
“Gibbs is a 5th Stryker Brigade soldier facing charges associated with an on-going investigation into incidents that occurred in Afghanistan,” officials at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington wrote in a prepared statement.
In May 2010, military officials reported that several soldiers, including one from Cape Coral, had been implicated in the deaths of three Afghan civilians. The murders took place in the first half of the year in separate incidents.
Gibbs has been called by some the ringleader behind the alleged killings.
He 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.
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.
“JBLM officials emphasize that the charges constitute an accusation and that the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty,” officials wrote.
If convicted on all of the listed specifications, Gibbs faces a maximum punishment of imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole.
His tentative court-martial dates are Oct 3-7. Gibbs remains in pre-trial confinement, where nearly all of those reportedly involved were placed.
Two soldiers implicated in the alleged killings have been released from the pre-trial confinement with monitoring devices — Spc. Michael S. Wagnon II of Las Vegas, Nev., and Pvt. 1st Class Andrew H. Holmes of Boise, Idaho.
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.
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.
Both are awaiting the results of their Article 32 reopener hearings.
Holmes’ tentative court-martial dates are Sept. 19-23. Wagnon has none.
Another soldier, Cape resident Spc. Adam C. Winfield, also requested release from pre-trial confinement. A military judge denied his motion on June 28.
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 has maintained his innocence from the start and even attempted to blow the whistle on what was going on overseas with the help of his family.
His tentative court-martial dates are Sept. 7-9.
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.
He is awaiting the results of his initial Article 32 hearing.
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.