Alleged Stryker 'kill team' leader grilled in military court

The OlympianNovember 2, 2011 

Defense attorneys for accused “kill team” ringleader Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs grilled the Army’s main witness for four hours Tuesday in a Joint Base Lewis-McChord courtroom. But one new image of an alleged murder victim undercut some of the doubts they raised about the witness.

That image showed a dead Afghan with a bullet wound to the back of his head – exactly where key witness Pvt. Jeremy Morlock claimed Gibbs shot the victim as the man lay crippled by a grenade blast and gunfire on May 2, 2010.

The photograph was one of several pieces of evidence prosecutors used to shore up Morlock’s testimony, despite his various admissions on the witness stand. Morlock conceded he abused drugs and lied to cover up three illegal killings he carried out during his Afghanistan tour with a Lewis-McChord Stryker brigade last year.

“You have the ability to lie and be convincing?” defense attorney Phil Stackhouse asked Morlock.

“You can say that, yes,” Morlock answered.

The 24-year-old soldier from Alaska pleaded guilty to murder in March and was sentenced to 24 years in prison. He claims he carried out the killings under Gibbs’ direction. His statements to investigators last year made up the backbone of criminal charges the Army leveled against a dozen soldiers from the platoon.

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