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Category: Military crime


Witness to Baghdad fratricide: “I looked into his face and he had no expression”

4:50 p.m. update: The Army’s prosecution of Sgt. John Russell kicked off this afternoon with an argument that the soldier knew exactly what he was doing when he worked his way through a Baghdad combat stress clinic shooting anyone he saw.

Russell, 48,  two weeks ago pleaded guilty to killing five of his fellow service members in May 2009, but he contends the shootings took place “in a rage” when he had little to no control of his emotions.  He would not plead guilty to premeditated murder.

Prosecutors today began to make their that Russell showed premeditation in the attack, arguing

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“Kill Team” documentary exploring JBLM war crimes earning acclaim

Filmmaker Dan Krauss obtained unrivaled access to three Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldiers who in 2011 were convicted of murdering Afghan civilians during their deployment to Kandahar Province. His documentary looking at how the soldiers changed from patriotic troops to notorious members of a so-called “kill team last week won first place in its category at the Tribeca Film Festival.

I haven’t seen Krauss’ “Kill Team,” but its preview shows several convicted  soldiers speaking on camera. It’s striking because these are people known around the world only in the gruesome photos they

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Attorneys for Kandahar massacre suspect Staff Sgt. Robert Bales must declare mental health defense by late May

Attorneys for the Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier accused of murdering 16 Afghan civilians last spring are approaching a deadline at the end of May to declare whether they intend to use a mental health defense at his court-martial.

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales’ faces the death penalty on charges that he slipped out of his combat outpost by himself twice in the early hours of March 11, 2012 to murder the civilians in their homes and to wound six more noncombatants. He allegedly burned some of the corpses, and reportedly returned to his base wearing a sheet like a cape.


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“I wanted the pain to stop,” Army sergeant says in pleading guilty to killing five others

1:10 p.m. update:

Sgt. John Russell returned to a Baghdad combat stress clinic “in a rage,” seeking out the doctor who he believed had encouraged him to commit suicide that day.

He didn’t see the doctor, but he attacked the clinic nonetheless.

Russell, 48, today admitted that he shot five fellow military service members to death at a combat stress clinic at CampLiberty in Baghdad on May 11, 2009.

“I wanted the pain to stop,” he testified in court at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Russell of Sherman, Texas struck a plea agreement with the Army that capped his maximum punishment at

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Soldier accused of killing five service members at Baghdad clinic expected to plead guilty next week

A soldier who faced the death penalty on charges that he murdered five service members at a military mental health clinic in Baghdad reached a plea agreement with the Army this week and is expected in court at Joint Base Lewis-McChord on Monday.

The Army’s announcement of the agreement and coming court date signal the end of a four-year effort to bring Sgt. John Russell, 48, to trial for allegedly killing Navy Cmdr. Charles Springle and the Army’s Maj. Matthew Houseal, Sgt. Christian Bueno-Galdos, Spc. Jacob Barton and Pfc. Michael Yates Jr. on May 11, 2009.

The charges marked the

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Afghan witnesses visit JBLM to prepare for Staff Sgt. Bales’ court-martial

Six Afghan civilians who plan to testify at the court-martial for Kandahar massacre suspect Staff Sgt. Robert Bales traveled to Joint Base Lewis-McChord last week to prepare for the trial.

Lt. Col. Gary Dangerfield, a spokesman for Lewis-McChord’s I Corps, confirmed that the witnesses visited the base last week and returned to Afghanistan.

They stayed at accommodations on the base and met with attorneys from the Army prosecution team and Bales’ lawyers.

Dangerfield said the discussions were not depositions. They were intended to help the Afghans become familiar with the court-martial process they will experience if Bales’ case takes place

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Kandahar massacre suspect Staff Sgt. Robert Bales due in court Thursday for arraignment

 Staff Sgt. Robert Bales last appeared in court in November for a two-week pretrial hearing. (AP Photo/Lois Silver)

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is scheduled to appear in court Thursday at Joint Base Lewis-McChord for an arraignment on charges that he murdered 16 Afghan civilians and wounded six more in March.

It is to be his first court appearance since the Army announced last month that it intends to pursue the death penalty against Bales.

The Army’s prosecution of Bales is still in its early phases and Bales does not have to enter a

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Trial update: Senior JBLM Air Force commanders could testify for accused pilot

Two of Joint Base Lewis-McChord highest ranking Air Force commanders could be called to testify on behalf of a pilot who is facing a court-martial stemming from a training exercise that resulted in the death of an Army paratrooper.

The accused pilot, Capt. Jared Foley, was well regarded among top officers in Lewis-McChord’s 62nd Airlift Wing, and until recently provided daily operations briefings to commanding officer Col. Wyn Elder.

“I thought (Foley) did a fine job with the task at hand” in those daily briefings, said Col. Thomas Jackson, commander of the wing’s maintenance group.

Foley’s court-martial started Tuesday at

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