News Tribune military reporter Adam Ashton reports this morning from a courtroom at Joint Base Lewis-McChord:
A Stryker soldier from Montesano this morning pleaded guilty to beating up a comrade at a base in Afghanistan last year, but he’s fighting charges that he did so to cover up drug use and other crimes in his platoon.
Spc. Adam Kelly, 26, is one of seven soldiers accused of assaulting then-Pfc. Justin Stoner after Stoner told a noncommissioned officer that some of his platoon mates had been smoking hashish in his room.
Stoner’s complaints triggered an investigation that led to charges accusing five of his comrades of murdering three Afghan civilians during patrols with the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. (Kelly is not among the soldiers facing the murder charges.)
Kelly is in court at Joint Base Lewis-McChord facing additional charges that he joined the assault on Stoner to obstruct an Army investigation and intimidate Stoner from talking further with officers. He’s also accused of using drugs during his deployment.
Kelly pleaded not guilty to those charges. His attorney said Kelly struck Stoner simply because Kelly didn’t like the private.