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Entries in Kill Team (2)

Saturday
Aug062011

‘Kill Team’ Soldier Gets Three Years in Prison

Creatas/Thinkstock(CAPE CORAL, Fla.) -- Adam Winfield, the Army specialist who warned his parents that soldiers in his unit were executing innocent Afghan civilians, pled guilty Friday to reduced charges and was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in one of the murders.

Winfield, 23, of Cape Coral, Fla., had been charged with premeditated murder, which carried a sentence of life in prison without parole.

Winfield agreed to a plea deal with military prosecutors at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, and is expected to testify against Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, who is charged with planning and executing three Afghan civilians between January and May 2010.

At Friday's hearing, Winfield told the court he has failed to stop Gibbs and another soldier, Cpl. Jeremy Morlock, from killing a detained Afghan.

"It is my duty as an American soldier ... to protect any detainee ... that is in the custody of U.S. personnel," Winfield said. "It was my job to do that, sir, and I failed to do it."

Prosecutors allege that the Ft. Lewis-based Stryker brigade set up scenarios to kill unarmed Afghans, and then planted weapons to make the killings appear justified. Winfield had been charged with premeditated murder, but said he never fired his weapon at the victim. In his plea agreement, prosecutors accepted his defense.

Winfield contended that he had not shot the Afghan victim but had also not stopped his fellow soldiers from murdering an Afghan man just outside his home in southern Afghanistan.

"Had I done my duty ... to defend that man, then it would not have happened. He wouldn't be dead," Winfield said Friday.

Winfield is one of five Lewis-McChord soldiers accused in the three killings, and the second to accept a plea deal. Morlock pled to three counts of premeditated murder in March and was sentenced to 24 years in prison. In 2010, ABC News published video of Morlock describing the "kill team"'s alleged actions. This spring photos of the men posing with corpses surfaced in the media.

Prosecutors allege that Winfield, Gibbs, Morlock, Spc. Michael S. Wagnon II, and Pfc. Andrew H. Holmes participated in one or more of the murders and staged them to make unarmed Afghans appear to be armed insurgents.

Winfield was the first to come forward about the alleged sport killings. He told his parents while deployed that members of his unit had planned and executed the killings for sport. He was charged with murder for his part in the third and final death in May of last year.

Military prosecutors are hoping Winfield's testimony in exchange for the plea agreement will help convict Gibbs, who is charged in all three Afghan deaths and believed to be the ringleader of the group.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar292011

More Gruesome Details Emerge on US Army 'Kill Team' in Afghanistan

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- An article in the latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine sheds more light on a so-called U.S. Army "kill team" that allegedly murdered Afghan civilians for sport.

Last week, Spc. Jeremy Morlock pleaded guilty in a military court in Washington state to his role in the slayings and will testify against four other soldiers, including accused ringleader Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, in exchange for a lighter sentence.

Graphic photos of the soldiers and their dead Afghan victims that already appeared in Germany's Der Spiegel are also featured in the Rolling Stone story written by Mark Boal, who wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for the Iraq war movie The Hurt Locker.

At one point, Boal describes how the soldiers in the "kill team" used a pinky chopped off the hand of a dead 15-year-old to place a bet during a card game.

Worried that the incident could turn into another Abu Ghraib -- the now-closed Baghdad prison where U.S. guards were shown in photos abusing prisoners -- Boal claims the Pentagon "launched a massive effort to find every file and pull the pictures out of circulation before they could touch off a scandal on the scale of Abu Ghraib."

Among other things, it is against Army rules to take photos of war dead.

The Pentagon is calling the alleged atrocities "repugnant to us as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the United States Army."

Spc. Morlock, who faces 24 years in prison, grew up in Wasilla, Alaska and is a friend of Track Palin, the son of former Gov. Sarah Palin.







ABC News Radio