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Here’s what to watch for when alleged “kill team” leader goes to trial Friday

Post by Adam Ashton / The News Tribune on Oct. 26, 2011 at 11:27 am with 3 Comments »
October 26, 2011 11:27 am
Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs at his pre-trial hearing in October 2010. (AP Photo/Courtroom Sketch by Peter Millet

The Stryker soldier who allegedly hatched plans for his platoonmates to murder three Afghan civilians last year is going to trial Friday, the Army announced today.

Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, 26, of Billings, Mont., faces life in prison if he’s convicted on any one of three murder charges. He’s charged with 13 other crimes alleging he beat up a subordinate who told officers about drug use in their platoon and collected bones from dead Afghans.

Gibbs has maintained his innocence on the murder charges ever since the Army put him in custody 16 months ago. Through his lawyer, Gibbs says the three killings that make up the heart of the Army’s case against him took place in legitimate combat.

He was one of 12 soldiers from his platoon in Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division who came home from Afghanistan in June 2010 facing criminal charges for their conduct at Forward Operating Base Ramrod.

Five of them including Gibbs allegedly took part in the murders. The other seven faced less serious charges, such as drug use and assault.

Nine of them have been convicted at courts-martial over the past year. Two soldiers, former Spcs. Jeremy Morlock and Adam Winfield, have pleaded guilty to killing Afghans and agreed to testify against Gibbs.

They have testified that they were frightened of Gibbs. Winfield even feared that Gibbs would kill him, he told Army investigators last year.

All together, at least six soldiers from the 29-man platoon have told investigators they were aware of Gibbs’ plots.

However, attorneys for other codefendants have said Gibbs has a fighting chance of being found innocent of the murders.

Some of the challenges prosecutors face include:

Gibbs’ court-martial likely will run well into next week. It should answer the question of whether Gibbs really was a “Mansonesque” figure who led his platoon down a dark path.

Leave a comment Comments → 3
  1. we give kids guns, teach them to kill…… what happens in war …. cant make too many judgements about it during civilian time …. thats why they call it war
    change it to only 21 year olds can be trained and go to war…. this is a tragedy for everyone involved

  2. fivecardstud says:

    I do hope he gets life without for leading and forcing this behavior on his troops. Besides I don’t want him to be one of our future police officers.

  3. imaginethat says:

    by the sound of this article there is not much of a case. morlock was talking about covering up kills before gibbs got there.two were overheard plotting to lay the blame on him and the first and third he wasnt even present when the incedents started.this whole case sounds like hearsay.the only thing that is substained is he joined in on the beating of stoner and by his own admission stoner smoked with them. sounds like gibbs better get out the rail cause the army wants to give him a ride on it for the seems like different articles the ringleader is already in jail.

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