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Winfield’s testimony could target three “kill team” defendants

Post by Adam Ashton / The News Tribune on Aug. 2, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
August 2, 2011 12:51 pm

Here’s a quick rundown of how Spc. Adam Winfield’s testimony could impact the remaining “kill team” cases now that he’s struck a plea agreement and become available to take the witness stand.

His plea deal is an immediate boost to the prosecution’s case against alleged “kill team” leader Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, and it could have ramifications for two other soldiers.

Winfield can help the Army prosecute Gibbs because Winfield claims he was a participant in May 2010 murder orchestrated by the staff sergeant. His voice could back up Pvt. Jeremy Morlock, who also admits to participating in the killing.t

Winfield spoke extensively about misconduct in his platoon with Army investigators last year at Kandahar Airfield, describing an atmosphere where illegal drugs were common and soldiers schemed to murder noncombatants.

He did not witness the other two murders in the “kill team” investigation, but he has claimed he saw Morlock and Pfc. Andrew Holmes plot a murder they allegedly carried out in January 2010. Morlock has pleaded guilty to that killing, and Holmes is awaiting a court-martial in mid-September.

Winfield’s Facebook messages to his father in February 2010 also show that he was aware the January killing was staged. It’s not clear whether Holmes knew that at the time, according to testimony from other soldiers in court.

Last year, Winfield told Army investigators that Spc. Michael Wagnon kept a piece of a human skull, purposely shot at unarmed Afghans in a March 2010 patrol and sought to destroy evidence in the case. Wagnon’s awaiting a court-martial on charges that he participated in a February 2010 killing with Gibbs and Morlock.

The Army has already thrown out a charge against Wagnon based on his alleged possession of a human skull after soldiers who knew Wagnon well said he the bone came from a camel, not a person. An Army investigator appointed to review Wagnon’s case was skeptical that he tried to destroy digital evidence, largely because Wagnon couldn’t have regained possession of his computer even if he wanted to once the inquiry began.

Winfield has strongly asserted in his interviews with investigators that the soldiers who participated in a March 2010 patrol led by Gibbs knew they were shooting at unarmed farmers when they opened fire on them. Two other soldiers who were on the patrol have backed up Winfield’s account. That’s the basis of an assault charge against Wagnon.

That incident, however, has been unusually confusing in court. At least five soldiers who were on the patrol have testified, and each has given a different account. Wagnon was carrying an automatic machine gun that day. Winfield has told investigators he specifically heard that gun, but other soldiers have said they definitely did not hear the sound of an automatic weapon.

 

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