One of five soldiers accused by the Army of involvement in the premeditated killings of Afghan civilians is scheduled to appear before a military judge today – on the same day ABC News aired tapes that show his confession to investigators about his own involvement and the involvement of several other soldiers in the slayings.
In the tape, Spc. Jeremy Morlock, 22, described his role in a plan to kill three Afghan civilians – a plan that he said was organized by his unit’s sergeant, Calvin Gibbs.
Here’s what he said of Sergeant Gibbs:
“He pulled out one of his grenades. American grenade. You know, popped it, throws the grenade, and then tells me and Winfield, all right dude, you know, whack this guy. You know, kill this guy, kill this guy,” Morlock describes on the tape.
As we’ve noted, the charge sheets describe how American soldiers orchestrated the shooting of Afghan civilians by first throwing a grenade – making it seem as if the civilian had thrown it – and using it as a pretext for opening fire on the civilian. Gibbs, like Morlock, is charged with involvement in all three deaths.
“He just really doesn’t have any problems with f—-ing killing these people,” Morlock told investigators.
He also described a fear of reprisal from Gibbs, saying, “If Gibbs knew that I was sitting here in front of this camera right now, there’s no doubt in my mind that he would f—-, he’d take me out if he had to.”
Watch some of those clips:
The soldiers have denied wrongdoing through attorneys and family members, a recent story by The Washington Post noted. Lawyers and family members told ABC News that they intend to fight the charges.
Of the five soldiers accused of direct involvement in the killings, Morlock is the first to appear before a military judge to help determine whether he’ll stand trial, according to The Tacoma News Tribune.
CBS News has reported that today’s hearing began with “more than a dozen witnesses asserting their right to remain silent,” including the lieutenant in charge of the platoon.
Morlock’s testimony to investigators was central to the Army’s case against him and his fellow soldiers. His attorney, Michael Waddington, has contested the taped statements, arguing that his client was under the influence of several prescription drugs at the time of his interviews with investigators, The Seattle Times reported.
Seven other soldiers in the brigade were charged with other violations, including efforts to impede the Army’s investigation of the killings.