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Montesano soldier faces 11 years in prison over alleged misconduct in Afghanistan

Post by Adam Ashton / The News Tribune on Feb. 22, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
February 22, 2011 12:06 pm

A Stryker soldier from Montesano on Wednesday will face charges that he assaulted a private at a base in Afghanistan last year to help cover up other misconduct in his platoon.

Spc. Adam Kelly, 26, faces up to 11 years and six months in prison if he’s found guilty of assault, conspiracy and drug-use charges when his court-martial concludes at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

He allegedly joined six of his comrades to beat up then-Pfc. Justin Stoner in May after Stoner raised concerns about soldiers in his platoon smoking hashish at Forward Operating Base Ramrod.

Stoner’s complaints opened up an Army review of his platoon that resulted in misconduct charges against 12 soldiers in the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. Five of them allegedly murdered three civilians during patrols.

The Army contends Kelly participated in the assault to intimidate Stoner and keep him from talking with officers about the drug use.

Kelly’s lawyer in December acknowledged that Kelly helped beat up Stoner, but argued it was a “retribution-type act” that warranted less punishment than the conspiracy charges leveled against the specialist.

Kelly in May told Army investigators that he smoked hashish at the base and participated in the assault on Stoner, according to Army documents obtained by The News Tribune.

He further told investigators that he was aware that Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, a squad leader in his platoon, had talked about purposely killing civilians. Kelly told investigators he thought Gibbs wasn’t serious.

Prosecutors now describe Gibbs as the ringleader of a “kill team” in the platoon. Gibbs is charged with having a hand in three murders. He denies the charges and is expected to face a court-martial in April.

Three soldiers in the platoon have pled guilty to misconduct in the Army’s case and agreed to testify against their co-defendants. One of them, Spc. Emmitt Quintal, participated in the assault on Stoner.

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