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Morlock distances sergeant from Afghan murder

Post by Adam Ashton / The News Tribune on June 22, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
June 22, 2011 1:39 pm

Pvt. Jeremy Morlock today backed away from a previous statement connecting a staff sergeant in his platoon to the January 2010 murder of an Afghan noncombatant.

Morlock, however, testified that Staff Sgt. David Bram was well aware of schemes in his platoon to murder civilians in combat-like scenarios.

Bram’s in court today at Joint Base Lewis-McChord for a pretrial hearing. He’s accused of failing to report crimes, participating in discussions about murdering noncombatants, planting evidence near a corpse and assaulting a fellow soldier.

Morlock is the Army’s star witness in its prosecution of 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division soldiers who allegedly staged the killings of three Afghans during their deployment last year. Morlock has confessed to playing a role in each of the murders and agreed to testify against his codefendants.

In January, Morlock signed a pretrial agreement that says Bram “communicated it was clear” to carry out the first of the three murders.

Today, Morlock said he assumed Bram consented to the killing but they did not discuss the murder before it took place. Instead, Morlock said he identified a victim, used an Army interpreter to beckon the noncombatant to him and Pfc. Andrew Holmes and then gestured to Bram and Spc. Adam Kelly to distract the interpreter while Morlock and Holmes killed the noncombatant.

“Sgt. Bram and Spc. Kelly later on talked about how they didn’t believe I was going to do what happened until they saw it,” Morlock said.

His new testimony distances Bram from the execution of the January 2010 killing, but it also suggests that Bram was a prominent player in talks about murder scenarios. For example, Morlock said Bram had planned to have a subordinate shoot at an Afghan civilian and then plant an AK-47 on the victim to make it appear as if the Afghan was a threat to American forces. That scenario did not occur.

Morlock described himself as “pretty tight” with Bram. Morlock also said he did not bring up Bram in previous statements to attorneys and Army investigators because he wanted to protect his friend.

Attorneys want to wrap Bram’s Article 32 hearing today, but it could run into tomorrow.

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