Army striking deals for testimony against Stryker squad leader

Tacoma News TribuneDecember 12, 2010 

TACOMA, Wash. — The Army's case against a Stryker squad leader who allegedly plotted to kill civilians in Afghanistan is shaping up with deals that require some of his former platoon mates to testify against him.

Military lawyers are not surprised. They say it’s been clear the Army intended to compel soldiers to testify against Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs since August, when it was announced that a dozen soldiers from the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division at Joint Base Lewis-Mc-Chord would face charges for misconduct during their combat deployment.

Prosecutors are “counting on some guys to act as a snitch, no question,” said attorney Colby Vokey, who’s representing a soldier facing a murder charge.

Aside from Gibbs, four are accused of murdering Afghan civilians. The other seven face lesser charges.

Two soldiers in the past two weeks have reached agreements that compel them to testify against Gibbs and other codefendants. More agreements are in the works, according to prosecutors and defense attorneys.

Staff Sgt. Robert Stevens struck a deal this month that cut his maximum prison sentence from 27 years to less than 10 months. He pleaded guilty to shooting at unarmed Afghans and lying to investigators.

Spc. Justin Stoner also cut a deal that put him on the stand twice in the last two weeks to testify about the comrades who assaulted him.

Prosecutors in court this week said negotiations are taking place with Cpl. Em-mitt Quintal, who is accused of assaulting Stoner, keeping images of Afghan casualties and smoking hashish.

The Army on Friday announced that Quintal would be punished in what’s called a special court-martial. That’s relatively good news for him because he faced much more time in prison if the Army prosecuted him in a general court-martial.

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