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No bodies, no evidence, says attorney for accused Afghan killer

Post by Matt Misterek / The News Tribune on Sep. 27, 2010 at 2:26 pm with 8 Comments »
September 27, 2010 2:26 pm

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.

Leave a comment Comments → 8
  1. sunup500 says:

    So we dig up the countryside while in Iraq to prove that Hussein was gulity of mass murder. Mass graves are dug up to prove the NAZI’s committed mass murders. But when American soldiers are the focus of murdering civilians, we suddenly become sensitive to the deceased’s families? My money is that we will look far worse in the eyes of the world for covering it up.If the crimes took place, then all resources should be exhausted to prove the case beyond the shadow of a doubt. How else are we to sway nations that democracy and justice are the path to joining the civilized world?

  2. Whatever! As a prosecutor who regularly deals with criminal cases involving defendants who are addicted to prescription pain killers, prescribed medications like Xanax, and use hashish or marijuana while committing their crimes, I see no difference in the profiles of the soldiers who have been accused.

    The mitigating circumstances, however, are tremendous and make me wonder why the Army even chose to pursue criminal prosecution in this case. We recruit soldiers who fit the profile that I described above (i.e., losers who are unfit for military service), we send them to the worst place on earth, surrounded by savages intent on killing them, and then instruct them that they are to love these terrorists. This isn’t like the Calley case in Vietnam, where a group of overly stressed soldiers snapped under poor leadership. This is a case where there is NO leadership whatsoever, and these soldiers engaged in killing enemy combatants disguised without uniforms. No Geneva Convention protection for these terrorists there.

    The correct prosecution would be under RICO statutes, going after the military commanders who conspire to maintain their careers at the expense of junior soldiers. Will this happen? Maybe. We are nearing the tipping point where America will realize that our enemy is ubiquitous, and includes men, women, and children. We can either kill them all, or we can leave. One way or the other.

  3. Gosh I can’t imagine being in a foreign country hiding behind a wall trying to figure out where the various gunfire is coming from. Then come home to be on trial because you (most likely) panicked and (again most likely) unintentionally fired at a civilian who ran was running for cover. I’m not saying that is what happened but thats the scenario I imagine and it happens all the time. I’m definately sypathetic to the deceased but I’m much more sypathetic to our soldiers who get paid squat diddly for putting their lives on the line.

  4. To ErinD:

    Why exactly are you sympathetic to the dead terrorists who would have tried to kill our soldiers if they hadn’t been killed first?

    Enlist, spend a tour in Afghanistan. You will then appreciate that there are no innocents there. There are only American killers, and those trying to become American killers.

    And actually, our soldiers are paid handsomely. This is not the draft Army of previous wars. This is an all volunteer military that has been duly recognized and compensated by Congress for their service (approving pay increase over the objection of both the Bush and Obama administrations). These are not soldiers heading to Canada when they get home. They want to defend America. They want to eliminate the threat. They are confused by our leaders who cannot conceal their confusion from the soldiers they command. There ain’t no Pattons on today’s battlefield. There are only CYA officers looking for their next star.

  5. clearly I’m not sympathetic to “terrorists” but confused for bystanders who in fact are not all out to kill Americans. Ask a soldier, they have loyal insiders which helped to successful raids (though the news will never report it). Saying all Afghanis are terrorists is ignorant. It is no doubt difficult to differentiate civilian from terrorists, and yes sometimes its children and women, so soldiers are overly cautious for that sake. Perhaps it is you who should enlist and discover a lesson or two. My husband served over seas and no, it wasn’t a handsome payment considering his life was on the line. And as for CYA officers looking for their next star, thats definately untrue, there are many brilliant officers ( you are right, there will never be another Patton) but they would put their lives on the line for their soldiers. You need to go on base and maybe talk to some of the soldiers before you make slanderous remarks about them and their jobs.

  6. typo…*but for confused bystanders

  7. bobbysangelwife says:

    cpaalum—man you’re IGNORANT as all get out. “Paid handsomely”???? Are you freaking kidding me?!?!!?!! Depending on rank and location—these men and women get at the most $500-750 extra per month to be shot at, blown up, lose a limb/eye/part of their skull, have nightmares when they come home, deal with legal and money matters, have families, deal with PTSD for years to come.

    You call that ‘paid handsomely’???? Dang near 100% would rather skip that BS and stay home with their families.

    Get a freakin’ clue

  8. First of all – this is an all volunteer military. Any soldier who is now serving either enlisted or re-enlisted during a period when our country has been at war (that would be nine years now). So if people want to stay home with their families, don’t join the Armed Forces. Let others who are willing to make the sacrifice do so.

    Second, talk with data and not with your exclamation points (i.e., ignorance). The Army Times and the Dept of Defense web sites both have income data showing parity with civilians in all but a few fields (like brain surgery).

    Third, I have spent two tours on FOBs in Afghanistan, and a year in Iraq at the start of the war. Iraq is somewhat different than Afghanistan, and is far safer. Afghanistan has slaughtered the British, the Soviets, and now us – all because we believe that the poor, downtrodden tribes there want freedom and democracy. They don’. They want us to leave. Actually, they want to kill every one of us, just like they did to the British men, women, and children in the 19th century. They just can’t get away with it when the US Air Force is providing overwatch over those on the ground.

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