News Tribune military writer Adam Ashton reports from a courtroom at Joint Base Lewis-McChord:
The attorney for Army Spc. Jeremy Morlock confronted two military investigators today over a lack of forensic evidence tying the Stryker brigade soldier to the three Afghan civilian murders he is accused of committing.
Morlock, 22, is in the first day of a pre-trial hearing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord that will determine whether there’s enough evidence for a full court-martial proceeding. Investigators say he played a role in three deaths while deployed to Southern Afghanistan: one in which he allegedly threw a grenade over a wall, a second in which he may have fired his weapon in the same direction as another soldier, then confirmed that the man was dead; and a third in which he allegedly fired his weapon in the direction of another civilian who died.
Two special agents with the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command gave testimony Monday via telephone from Afghanistan. Agents Anderson Wagner and Shannon Richey said they could not exhume the bodies of the three slain civilians, in part because doing so would inflame the sensitivities of the Afghan population and possibly increase attacks on American forces.
“If this is the United States, this is a no-brainer,” Wagner said. “But this is not the United States, and there are repercussions for what we do.”
The result, said Morlock’s civilian defense attorney, Michael Waddington, is a lack of physical evidence tying his client to the three alleged war crimes.
Waddington also argued that Morlock was taking a mix of prescription drugs that made him confused and should render his interview with investigators off limits. The agents, however, said Morlock was lucid when they interviewed him.
Check in with this blog, or read Tuesday’s News Tribune, for more developments from Monday’s Article 32 hearing.