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Third soldier accused of killing Afghan civilians sentenced

By Staff | Oct 10, 2011

A third soldier accused of murdering Afghan civilians last year is now facing seven years in a military prison after recently pleading guilty in the case.

Pvt. 1st Class Andrew H. Holmes of Boise, Idaho, pleaded guilty to murder and wrongfully using a controlled substance on Sept. 22 in a plea agreement with prosecutors, according to Maj. Chris Ophardt at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.

The following day, the judge sentenced Holmes to 15 years of confinement, but the sentence was capped at seven years as per the plea deal.

Holmes was facing 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.

Ophardt reported that the premeditation was dropped.

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 as separate incidents in the first half of the year.

The second soldier to be sentenced in connection to the deaths was Spc. Adam C. Winfield, of the Cape. In August, he pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and illegal use of a controlled substance under a plea deal.

He received three years of confinement, but faced up to eight years.

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.

Also charged in connection to the Afghan deaths were:

– Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs of Billings, Mont.

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

– Staff Sgt. David Bram of Vacaville, Calif.

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 has been called the ringleader behind the alleged killings by some.

Gibbs is 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.

If convicted on all of the listed specifications, he faces a maximum punishment of imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole.

Gibbs’ tentative court-martial dates are Oct 31-Nov. 4.

Wagnon is 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.

He is tentatively scheduled to go to court-martial next year.

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.

As of Friday, no tentative court-martial dates had been set for Bram.