Army witness' credibility questioned in Afghan murder case

The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.)June 29, 2011 

The attorney for a soldier and alleged member of a so-called Afghan kill team used a hearing Monday and Tuesday to stage an all-out assault on the government’s key witness in the case.

The witness, Pvt. Jeremy Morlock, has told investigators that Spc. Michael Wagnon consented to the murder of an unarmed villager Feb. 22, 2010. Morlock and Wagnon were Stryker brigade platoon-mates from Joint Base Lewis-McChord. They and three others are charged in a conspiracy for allegedly murdering three noncombatants during their 2009-10 deployment to southern Afghanistan.

Wagnon’s attorney, Colby Vokey, told the investigating officer he should disregard Morlock’s statement based on Morlock’s history of substance abuse, other troubles and contradictory statements to investigators.

Vokey said Morlock changed his story to win the best plea deal from prosecutors. He described him as the least credible witness he’d encountered in more than a decade practicing military law.

“The truth to Morlock has become what he can make it, what he can manipulate it to be,” Vokey said during his closing statement Tuesday.

Morlock maintained that he told the truth. He pleaded guilty to all three murders and agreed to testify against other soldiers in exchange for a 23-year prison sentence.

Morlock’s testimony took up the bulk of Wagnon’s Article 32 hearing, the military equivalent of a grand jury.

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