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Charges dropped against soldier accused of killing Afghan civilians

By Staff | Feb 14, 2012

The United States recently dropped all charges against a soldier accused of murdering Afghan civilians nearly two years ago.

On Feb. 3, the Senior Army Commander at Joint Base Lewis-McChord dismissed without prejudice the pending specifications referred against Spc. Michael S. Wagnon II of Las Vegas. He faced the following charges:

– One specification of premeditated murder.

– One specification of conspiracy to commit premeditated murder.

– One specification of conspiracy to commit assault consummated by battery.

– One specification of committing assault with a dangerous weapon.

“The United States dismissed the charges in the interest of justice,” officials at the military base 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 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.

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.

In November, a military panel found Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs of Billings, Mont., guilty in a court-martial of multiple specifications that included premeditated murder and committing an assault with a dangerous weapon, among others.

Some referred to him as the ringleader behind the alleged killings.

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.

One week later, Staff Sgt. David Bram of Vacaville, Calif., was found guilty of seven specifications, including conspiracy to commit assault, solicitation to commit premeditated murder and endeavoring to impede an investigation.

He was sentenced to five years in prison.