News Tribune military writer Adam Ashton reports from a Joint Base Lewis-McChord courtroom:
Spc. Michael Wagnon’s former roommate testified this morning that a bone the soldier kept during their recent deployment to Afghanistan came from a camel that stepped on a roadside bomb intended for their Stryker platoon.
Wagnon, 30, is accused of murdering an Afghan civilian and keeping a piece of human skull from another shooting.
The charge pertaining to the bone is among the most troubling in an Army investigation that has netted 11 other soldiers from Wagnon’s platoon in the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.
Sgt. Eric Skinner’s testimony at Joint Base Lewis-McChord contradicted statements three other soldiers gave to Army investigators that indicated the bone came from an Afghan man shot by members of Wagnon’s platoon in January.
Skinner said Wagnon showed off the bone in March or April and said he kept it as a reminder that the bomb that killed the camel could have hit his Stryker vehicle.
“He called it pretty lucky because that was supposed to be us,” Skinner said.
Wagnon’s Article 32 hearing is wrapping up today. Skinner was one of three of Wagnon’s platoon mates who described the accused soldier as trustworthy.
By contrast, the three soldiers described Wagnon’s co-defendant Spc. Jeremy Morlock as someone who would lie frequently, whom they didn’t like or trust.
Morlock is the one who told investigators that Wagnon participated in a scheme to kill a civilian. Morlock awaits a full court-martial trial to face charges that he had a hand in murdering three Afghan civilians, including the man Wagnon allegedly helped kill.