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Soldier from Cape receives three years

By Staff | Aug 6, 2011

A Cape Coral soldier accused in the death of an Afghan civilian last year was sentenced to three years confinement in military prison Friday after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter.

Spc. Adam C. Winfield, 23, also pleaded guilty to illegal use of a controlled substance as part of a plea agreement.

A military judge sentenced Winfield to three years confinement, reduction in rank to private, forfeiture of all pay and allowances and a bad conduct discharge, according to a prepared statement issued Friday by the Public Affairs Office at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.

Under the plea arrangement, the judge could have sentenced to Winfield to up to eight years confinement, according to Maj. Chris Ophardt.

The 517 days Winfield has already spent in confinement will count toward the three-year sentence, Ophardt said in an e-mail concerning the case.

Winfield had been facing charges 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.

After the first death, Winfield contacted his family in the Cape via e-mail and other online means and told his father that he feared members of his squad had killed a civilian and were planning additional deaths.

He also told his family that he felt his life was in danger if he reported the incident.

It has been confirmed that his father reported his son’s concerns to Winfield’s home base in Washington.

No investigation ensued until after the third civilian death, the one Winfield was accused of participating in.

Winfield’s family could not be reached for comment Friday.

Attorney Eric Montalvo represented Winfield.

Montalvo did not return a message seeking comment by press time.

In May 2010, military officials reported that several soldiers, including Winfield, had been implicated in the deaths of three Afghan civilians. The murders took place as separate incidents in the first half of the year.

Also charged in connection to the Afghan deaths were:

– Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, of Billings, Mont.

– Pvt. 1st Class Andrew H. Holmes, of Boise, Idaho

– Spc. Michael S. Wagnon II, of Las Vegas, Nev.

– Staff Sgt. David Bram, of Vacaville, Calif.

An Article 32 reopener hearing was held for Gibbs in July. At an Article 32 reopener hearing, military officials re-examine the charges filed against a defendant based off of additional evidence and testimony that is presented.

Ophardt reported Friday that Gibbs’ reopener report was not complete.

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.

Gibbs also was 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 the ringleader behind the alleged killings by some.

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.

Holmes has been 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.

Following an Article 32 reopener hearing, he was re-referred for general court-martial, Ophardt reported. The tentative dates are Sept. 19-23.

“It means Holmes will continue to trial as planned,” he said. “The Army did not feel the new evidence presented at the Article 32 justified changing any of the charges.”

On Friday, Wagnon’s reopener hearing was complete and under review.

He has been 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.

There are no tentative court-martial dates scheduled for Wagnon.

Bram was initially charged with 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.

He 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.

Bram is awaiting the results of his initial Article 32, Ophardt reported.

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.