Soldier gets life sentence
A U.S. soldier accused of being the ringleader behind a rash of murders last year that targeted Afghan civilians has been sentenced to life in prison.
Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, of Billings, Mont., was found guilty Thursday by a military panel in a court-martial of all specifications and charges referred against him, according to officials. Gibbs was sentenced on the following:
* Three specifications of premeditated murder
* Two specifications of conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline
* Two specifications of wrongfully endeavoring to impede an investigation
* Two specifications of dereliction of duty
* One specification of unlawfully striking another soldier
* One specification of committing an assault with a dangerous weapon
* One specification of conspiracy to commit premeditated murder
* One specification of conspiracy to commit assault consummated by battery
* One specification of conspiracy to commit aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon
* One specification of violating a lawful general order
Gibbs received life in prison with the possibility of parole, a dishonorable discharge, a reduction in rank and the loss of all pay and allowances.
He faced a maximum punishment of life without the possibility of parole.
One specification of wrongfully communicating a threat to injure was dismissed, according to officials at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
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.
In March, Spc. Jeremy Morlock, of Wasilla, Alaska, pleaded guilty to three specifications of premeditated murder, among others, as part of a plea deal that included testifying against co-defendants. He got 24 years in prison.
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.
Winfield had notified his parents after the first death, saying he was afraid to report it. His father reported it stateside to Joint Base Lewis-McChord but there was no investigation until after the third death, the one in which Spc. Winfield was accused of taking part.
Pvt. 1st Class Andrew H. Holmes, of Boise, Idaho, pleaded guilty to murder and wrongfully using a controlled substance in a deal in September. The judge sentenced him to 15 years, but it was capped at seven years per the deal.
Also charged in connection to the Afghan deaths were:
n Staff Sgt. David Bram, of Vacaville, Calif.
n Spc. Michael S. Wagnon II, of Las Vegas, Nev.
Bram’s court-martial is tentatively scheduled to begin Wednesday.
He was originally 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.
Wagnon’s court-martial is tentatively scheduled for next year.
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.