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Alleged “kill team” leader bragged about murder to medic, witness says

Post by Adam Ashton / The News Tribune on July 22, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
July 22, 2011 1:11 pm

The Stryker soldier accused of masterminding schemes to kill Afghan civilians bragged to an Army medic about murdering a suspected Taliban leader in a staged combat incident, the medic testified today.

Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, 26, of Billings, Mont., is back in court for the second day of a pretrial hearing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. He’s accused of murdering three Afghans last year during his deployment with the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division and persuading others to join him in war crimes.

Pvt. Robert Stevens, a former friend of Gibbs, testified today that Gibbs showed off unauthorized weapons and a severed human finger he kept at Forward Operating Base Ramrod in southern Afghanistan. At the time, Stevens was a medic and a staff sergeant in another unit who would visit Gibbs occasionally.

Stevens further said that Gibbs boasted about killing the suspected Taliban leader during one of their chats. Stevens’ recollection of that incident generally backed up one given yesterday by eye-witness and admitted participant Pvt. Jeremy Morlock.

Stevens said Gibbs fired a couple rounds from an unauthorized AK-47 he carried in his assault pack, kicked that weapon toward the Afghan and then shot the Afghan with his Army-issued M4 rifle.

Morlock yesterday described the victim as a seemingly random target. Stevens today said Gibbs thought the man was involved with the Taliban.

Gibbs “was sick of picking him and letting him go,” Stevens said.

Stevens in December pleaded guilty to obstructing the Army’s investigation into misconduct in Gibbs’ platoon and lying to officers. He was sentenced to nine months in prison and demoted to private.

Gibbs’ attorney sought to cast doubt on Stevens’ testimony by citing his original statement to Army investigators. In that document, Stevens denied any knowledge of Gibbs’ wrongdoing.

Stevens changed his story four days later when Army investigators told him Gibbs had confessed to his crimes and told the medic he’d be better off if he told officers what he knew, Stevens said today following questioning from Gibbs’ attorney.

The hearing is expected to end today with testimony from six other soldiers. Gibbs is scheduled to face a court-martial in early October.

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