Clemency denied: No early release for whistleblower
Despite the Army’s decision to deny clemency, the family of a Cape Coral soldier who was convicted in a plot to kill Afghan civilians is looking forward to the man’s release.
Maj. General Lloyd Miles, the commander of the Joint Base Lewis-McChord, denied the clemency bid of former Spc. Adam C. Winfield on April 5, despite a positive recommendation by the prosecutor. Miles did not provide a reason.
According to the Associated Press, Maj. Robert C. Stelle recommended Winfield receive credit for initially trying to stop the murders and for his cooperation in testifying against the alleged ringleader in the killing plot.
Winfield’s sentence is set to expire at the end of August.
His father, Christopher Winfield, explained Friday that a clemency hearing would be similar to going before a governor of a state or the president.
“He could have taken the charges away, he could have done anything,” he said of the commander. “This particular general has a record of not granting clemency to anyone. We didn’t know going in, but we found out afterward.”
Asked about Stelle’s recommendation to Miles, he said Stelle got to know Winfield and the family more during the trial of the alleged ringleader.
“I think he kind of stepped back and looked at everything and could tell Adam had been telling the truth all along,” he said. “He felt obligated to help.”
Winfield is tentatively set for release at the start of September. If he had been granted early release, it would have shaved a few months off his time.
“Adam’s been a victim just like some of the people in Afghanistan,” his father said, adding that his son was eventually more afraid of his unit than the enemy. “It’s a situation we don’t want to have anyone else go through.”
“We’re just grateful he’s alive and will be coming home,” he added.
Winfield is currently working in a greenhouse, where he passes his time.
“He’s being treated fairly, and he’s ready to come home,” he said.
When he is released, he wants to attend college and study agriculture.
“He wants to be a farmer,” his father said.
The family is considering an appeal of the conviction down the road.
“Our attorney feels favorable on an appeal decision,” he said.
In May 2010, military officials reported that several soldiers, including Winfield, had been implicated in the deaths of three Afghan civilians. The deaths took place in the first half of the year as separate incidents.
The army has acknowledged that Winfield contacted his father via Facebook after the first death and that Christopher Winfield notified the army, speaking with a sergeant at his son’s home base in Washington.
No action was taken.
In March 2011, Spc. Jeremy Morlock, of Wasilla, Alaska, pleaded guilty to three specifications of premeditated murder, among others, in a plea deal that included testifying against co-defendants. He got 24 years in prison.
Winfield pleaded guilty in August to involuntary manslaughter and illegal use of a controlled substance in a plea deal. He received three years in prison.
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.
He received life in prison with the possibility of parole.
Some referred to Gibbs as the ringleader of the plot.
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.
Two months ago, all of the charges that had been referred against Spc. Michael S. Wagnon II, of Las Vegas, Nev., were dismissed without prejudice.