The Stryker soldier who allegedly hatched plans for his platoonmates to murder three Afghan civilians last year is going to trial today, the Army announced yesterday.
Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, 26, of Billings, Mont., faces life in prison if he’s convicted on any one of three murder charges. He’s charged with 13 other crimes alleging he beat up a subordinate who told officers about drug use in their platoon and collected bones from dead Afghans.
Gibbs has maintained his innocence on the murder charges ever since the Army put him in custody 16 months ago. Through his lawyer, Gibbs says the three killings that make up the heart of the Army’s case against him took place in legitimate combat.
He was one of 12 soldiers from his platoon in Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division who came home from Afghanistan in June 2010 facing criminal charges for their conduct at Forward Operating Base Ramrod.
Five of them including Gibbs allegedly took part in the murders. The other seven faced less serious charges, such as drug use and assault.
Nine of them have been convicted at courts-martial over the past year. Two soldiers, former Spcs. Jeremy Morlock and Adam Winfield, have pleaded guilty to killing Afghans and agreed to testify against Gibbs.
They have testified that they were frightened of Gibbs. Winfield even feared that Gibbs would kill him, he told Army investigators last year.
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