March 23rd, 2011
03:42 PM ET

Soldier pleads guilty in Afghan killing case

Joint Base Lewis-Mcchord, Washington (CNN) - "The plan was to kill people."

That's what Army Spc. Jeremy Morlock said Wednesday during a court-martial proceeding against him, moments after pleading guilty to killing Afghan civilians in 2010.

Lt. Col. Kwasi Hawks, the military judge in the case, had asked Morlock if he and fellow soldiers just meant to scare civilians with grenades and gunfire and it "got out of hand."

Morlock and four other soldiers face murder charges, accused of killing Afghan citizens for sport. Seven more soldiers are accused of helping cover up the killings.

Morlock also pleaded guilty to charges alleging that he used drugs, as the court-martial opened at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington. He has pleaded not guilty to charges that he hit another soldier and that he photographed and possessed photos of dead Afghans.

Morlock was charged with three counts of murder. He was accused of killing one Afghan civilian in January 2010 with a grenade and rifle; killing another in May 2010 in a similar manner; and shooting a third to death in February 2010.

Another soldier, Pfc. Andrew Holmes, also faces charges in the case, but a start date for his court-martial has not been publicly announced.

In all, officials charged 12 U.S. soldiers in what they called a conspiracy to kill Afghan civilians and cover it up, along with charges they mutilated corpses and kept grisly souvenirs.

Morlock was the first of the five to face an Article 32 hearing, the military equivalent of a grand jury hearing, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Holmes is charged with the premeditated deaths of three civilians, possessing a dismembered human finger, wrongfully possessing photographs of human casualties, and smoking hashish.

He is also accused of conspiring with Morlock to shoot at a civilian and then toss a grenade so it would appear that the soldiers were under attack.

All of the accused men were members of a 2nd Infantry Division brigade operating near Kandahar in southern Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010.

The three others facing murder charges are Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, of Billings, Montana; Adam Winfield, of Cape Coral, Florida; and Spc. Michael Wagnon, of Las Vegas, Nevada.

Authorities allege Gibbs kept finger bones, leg bones and a tooth from Afghan corpses. Wagnon allegedly kept a skull from a corpse, according to charging documents.

Several soldiers are charged with taking pictures of the corpses, and one soldier is charged with stabbing a corpse.

This week, German news outlet Der Spiegel published photographs which it said showed Morlock and Holmes posing over the bodies of dead Afghans.

Two images show the soldiers kneeling by a bloody body sprawled over a patch of sand and grass. A third shows what appears to be two bodies propped up, back to back, against a post in front of a military vehicle.

The U.S. Army released a statement Monday calling the photographs "repugnant to us as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the United States Army."

"We apologize for the distress these photos cause," the statement said.

Army officials asserted in the statement that ongoing court-martial proceedings related to the alleged atrocities "speak for themselves."

"The photos appear in stark contrast to the discipline, professionalism and respect that have characterized our soldiers' performance during nearly 10 years of sustained operations."

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Filed under: Soldier tapes
soundoff (63 Responses)
  1. Ohio_Southpaw

    Morlock is from Wasilla, Alaska...hmm ...Same place Sarah Palin was Mayor, so I guess they do all drink the same "reload" Kool-Aid up there.

    March 28, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • ppeter

      It's Obama's war (his favorite out of his 3 or so, but who's counting?), not Palin's. Can't blame Palin or Bush for Obama's crimes against humanity, "worse than Abu Ghraib."

      March 31, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
      • agirl

        What do you mean its Obama's war? That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. Bush started this thing. And our country has had a problem with just accepting anyone into the army for a LONG time.

        May 22, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. salerno

    US military is mostly a criminal gang, as they covered all these killings, untill the fater of one soldier told the truth.

    March 28, 2011 at 1:20 am | Report abuse |
  3. Ibn al-Nafis

    why are these foolish videos allowed? they are offensive, and at a minimum, off topic.

    March 26, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Watching

    salerno has confessed to desertion.

    March 26, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • salerno

      NO, I CLAIMED to be a deserter as I have something more important to do than to partecipate in the stupid military operations.

      March 26, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Watching

      our village idiot/DESERTER wants to split hairs......... claim or confess....whatever. Desertion is still desertion.

      Synonyms for claim: affirm, allege, assert, aver, avouch, avow, contend, declare, insist, maintain, profess, protest, purport, warrant, put forth

      Synonyms for confess: accede, accept, acquiesce, allow, avow, come clean, come out of closet, concede, cop a plea, crack*, declare, fess up, get off chest, grant, let on, open up, own, profess, recognize, yield

      March 26, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        Watching – you idiot. Confession is like admitting a guilt, often or generally during interrogation, while claim is something to be proud and spontaneous. Ignorant.

        March 27, 2011 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Watching

      Ten avatars of Vishnu
      The most famous of the divine incarnations are Rama, whose life is depicted in the Ramayana, and Krishna, whose life is depicted in the Mahābhārata and theBhagavata Purana. The Bhagavad Gita, which contains the spiritual teachings of Krishna, is one of the most widely read scriptures in Hinduism.
      1. Matsya, the fish, appeared in the Satya Yuga. Represents the beginning of life.
      2. Kurma, the tortoise, appeared in the Satya Yuga. Represents a human embryo just growing tiny legs, with a huge belly.
      3. Varaha, the boar,appeared in the Satya Yuga. Represents a human embryo which is almost ready. Its features are visible.
      4. Narasimha, the Man-Lion (Nara = man, simha = lion), appeared in the Satya Yuga. Represents a newborn baby, hairy and cranky, bawling and full of blood.
      5. Vamana, the Dwarf, appeared in the Treta Yuga. Represents a young child.
      6. Parashurama, Rama with the axe, appeared in the Treta Yuga. Represents both an angry young man and a grumpy old man simultaneously.
      7. Rama, Sri Ramachandra, the prince and king of Ayodhya, appeared in the Treta Yuga. Represents a married man with children in a very ideological society
      8. Krishna (meaning who attracts). This word is used in sense of 'black' also. But Lord Krishna should be taken with the good synonym only. He was the real God in the form of human, as he was the greatest yogi ever with all miraculous powers, knowing the highest spiritual truth of 'Brahma' and 'Aatmaa', had the sense of practical life as well.
      9. Buddha is Buddha from the Hindu perspective who put forward his knowledge born of sorrowful feelings about the world.
      10. Kalki ("Eternity", or "time", or "The Destroyer of foulness"), who is expected to appear at the end of Kali Yuga, the time period in which we currently exist, though it has not happened yet.

      March 27, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • salerno

      Watching – There are some inaccuracies in you list. For istance, Krisna is just a Visnu Avatar like the others, not the "real God" more than the others, let alone "Knowing the highest spiritual truth of Brahman" like if the others did not know. They are all the same.

      March 27, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Watching

      Argue with Wikipedia, dipstick. Do you REALLY think I will listen to a DESERTER?

      Get real.

      March 27, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • salerno

      watching – Idiot – I am a contributor with wikipedia, but not always what you find there is the truth.

      March 27, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • salerno

      Probably you were even unable to read.

      March 27, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Dindy

    Sanity ..well said.

    March 25, 2011 at 6:18 am | Report abuse |
  6. rob roy

    is there a facility in Afghanistan like Gitmo,if not just drop these army boys into any Afghan prison{leave the uniforms on,that should draw some attention} good to see the everyday American is losing their patience on this never ending war in Afghanistan .TIME is on their {afgan-boys } side .your {americans} popularity with this war is dropping like that war that happened in southeast asia !!!!!! .

    March 25, 2011 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
    • salerno

      rob – Some people are unable to learn any lesson from the past.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:59 am | Report abuse |
  7. sherri

    The soldiers involved in this horrendous crime are absolute idiots and there is no justification for their crimes. They are low level excuses for soldiers. The sad truth is that they were probably led by the person who was supposed to be in charge of them. Gang mentality.My bet is that this group would have been lucky to have had a true educational level of 8th grade.That one would have been in charge. Thus we get the blind leading the blind. SAD!

    March 24, 2011 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dindy

    sanity ..Great. well said.

    March 24, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Pseudonym

    Blog monitors: We have a public confession of desertion, a capital offense. Would you turn him in, please?

    March 24, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dindy

      To know well about my Son are you his daddy ? You just want to know where my Son is you murderer!! He is well recognized by the people there including me. But not you.

      March 25, 2011 at 6:15 am | Report abuse |
  10. Riza Afghan

    hey stupid Amrullah Yousafzai,
    She is Pakistani, why on earth Afghans should be like stupid pakistanies ?

    We are fine the way we are.
    Americans should be Americans and Afghans should be Afghans and Stupid Pakistanies should be stupid Pakistanies.

    Got it ? STFU !!!

    March 24, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dindy

      May God bring all of us out from this Terrible situation. !!!I am sick hearing all these killings no matter who dies.

      March 24, 2011 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Pseudonym

    How many times have you posted this? How effective has it been? How on subject is it? Who gives a sh&t.

    March 24, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dindy

    We dont hear many afghans speaking here. Yet many from different regions.

    March 24, 2011 at 5:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Riza Afghan

      Dindy, I completely agree with you 🙂
      I don't know why all Pakistanies and Indians and Iranies are talking / leaving comments here.

      I just don't get it. These news have nothing to do with them but still they are interfering.
      Iran and Pakistanies are mentally disordered. they should show themself to the nearest doctor and do a full checkup 😛

      As i can see, lots of Paranoid people in here.
      News is making everyone crazy, nothing is going on, chill, just CHILL and enjoy yourself.

      March 24, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dindy are correct. Yet lots of others out side Afghanistan want to make Taliban win again and all the young Men and women who are dead fighting against them are in vain.

        March 24, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. joe volf

    Man ,all of the soldiers from US and Canada are guilty of killing hundreds of unarmed civilians in that county . Why are you picking him out of the crowd, hypocrites. Wake up and stop the lie!!!! We all know the truth.

    March 23, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • salerno

      joe – you are right, this is an attempt by the US military to blame few individuals while the problem is a lot bigger.

      March 24, 2011 at 1:41 am | Report abuse |
      • Real USMC Forever

        Duh,Duh,Does it hurrrrrrtttttt????

        March 24, 2011 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        One US soldier got 24 years.

        March 24, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        Pseudonym – I am proud to be a deserter and encoourage strongly to desert, instead of obeying to criminal orders. If you punish desertion with death, you are dogs.

        March 24, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |

      Thank's Joe for speaking the truth. This is an internet age and actions are always louder then words. All Afghans, Pakistanis, and Iraqis are victims of US state terrorism and all such inhuman actions on the part US cow boys, constantly adding to the hate against Americans in the world and they are becoming favorite target all over the world. So your speaking of truth is in fact your sincere attempt to remind the US leadership that they are on wrong track and in the name of defending USA they in fact facing US citizens with risks to their lives all over the world.

      March 24, 2011 at 2:03 am | Report abuse |
      • Sanity

        Screw you Joe and the idiots above, I like many other military individuals have been to Afghanistan and Iraq and never killed anyone. Save your Anti-American bleeding heart crap for someone who cares. I guarantee you've never had the courage to stand up for anything in your life. So get back to playing World of Warcraft, drinking your Mt Dew, and stuffing your fat *** with hot pockets. You are a disgrace to the men and women in uniform that are protecting your right to say what you want, show a little appreciation and support

        March 24, 2011 at 7:42 am | Report abuse |
      • BANGASH

        SANITY you stupid boldly confess that you have been to Afghanistan and Iraq but has killed no one. Was you not a part of these killers then for what you were there with guns, tanks, missiles and daily bombing of innocent civilians. Americans will soon see your ugly faces in Afghanistan and then you will have no place to hide in whole world. You are a disgrace to human conscience as your war-crafting is your death merchandise in world politics and have turned the the world into explosive dump. Soon you will face a miserable end in this death game.

        March 24, 2011 at 8:10 am | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        Sanity – Stop claiming you are protecting my speech freedom. You are just criminals like Bangash said, and I totally agree with his point.

        March 24, 2011 at 8:30 am | Report abuse |
      • Pseudonym

        SANITY – Thank you! I have observed there is an anti American hatred that permeates the Afghan blog that cannot or will not be penetrated by logical or reason. They deliberately paint the US military with a broad brush so as to justify their private agenda. However twisted it probably is. It is highly annoying to deal with because it is so intransigent. I think they wear tin foil hats and think the earth is flat, too.

        March 24, 2011 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        Pseudonym – I have no private agenda. You have private agenda as almost all of you are part of the US military. Idiot.

        March 24, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
      • Pseudonym

        YOU hve no private agenda? I've watched when you tried to incite treason, I've watched while you try to unman the US military (as if you could, you fool) so we could all be murdered (you too, by the way). You are a tin foil hat wearing, flat earth believer, mindless idiot, fully duped by those who would destroy America. Good luck, stupid.

        F&^$k you, dumb a ZZ.

        March 24, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
      • Pseudonym

        You know who you are and you self identified as well. Perfect.

        March 24, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        Pseudonym – deserting is not treason, but you are too stupid and ineducated to get it in your little brain. May be you will get it better in your a$$.

        March 24, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
      • Pseudonym

        In military terminology, desertion is the abandonment of a "duty" or post without permission and is done with the intention of not returning
        punishment for desertion is death

        In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more serious acts of betrayal of one's sovereign or nation
        The maximum penalty for treason is life imprisonment

        Either way you are absolute slime. And anyone who encourages either of these is bigger slime.

        March 24, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        Pseudonym – I am proud to be a deserter and strongly encourage to desert. If you punish it with death, you are dogs.

        March 24, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ibn al-Nafis

    A terrible thing, to do this. There is a code of military Justice under which these men will be prosecuted.

    An Article 32 hearing is a proceeding under the United States Uniform Code of Military Justice, similar to that of a preliminary hearing in civilian law. Its name is derived from UCMJ section VII ("Trial Procedure") Article 32 (10 U.S.C. § 832), which mandates the hearing.

    These men will be tried under the Rule of Law though they broke it themselves.

    March 23, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. andrew lubin

    12 soldiers involved yet the Army doesn't charge the CO / XO as accessories in not stopping this? Or at least for negligence ? Typical Army; charging the PfC, Sgt, and young enlisted as the officers get a free ride.

    March 23, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan from Chicago, IL

      Do you know of any orders from commanding officers or any other persons in charge for these obviously sadistic men to do such things?

      March 23, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
      • BANGASH

        DAN don't you see Morlock confessional statement saying this was their plan to kill Afghans, which in military war fare always remain main pressure tactic to assert their authority in an occupied land. This is one example of so called civilized USA and hundreds, more barbaric have remained unreported. DAN asking about order from high command shows your evil nature, exactly the way you have been doing in Abu Gharib, Guantanamo and rest of the world, picking just one such case among many others, to show the world that US court call such call this action "repugnant to us as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the United States Army." SHAME as your long list of apologies has no limit and you keep on committing which you call repugnant to USA's basic values. DAN this is your real face which even you hate today.

        March 24, 2011 at 1:43 am | Report abuse |
      • cindi

        Dan, the irony behind you saying that, is what my son had told a while back. He is in the army. But as always I do stand by me saying, no one has the right to judge anyone, including a soldier judging a soldier. Unless you were standing next to the accused, you know nothing.

        March 24, 2011 at 2:41 am | Report abuse |
      • Dindy

        This man who call other people dog means he himself a dog.That is why he can recognize his own kind.

        March 25, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • salerno

      lubin – You are right, but if the judge could target the superior level he should arrive to the President of USA.

      March 24, 2011 at 1:38 am | Report abuse |