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The World

March 24, 2011

US soldier gets 24 years for murders of 3 Afghans

(Continued)

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. —

In a statement Spinner read to reporters after sentencing, Morlock apologized for the pain he caused his victims' families and the people of Afghanistan. He also asked for forgiveness from his fellow soldiers.

Responding to criticism that 24 years was too light a sentence for three murders, Spinner pointed to Morlock's willingness to take responsibility for his actions and testify against his co-defendants.

"He realized coming into court today the 'why's' were not that important. He's taking responsibility," Spinner said.

After the January killing, platoon member Spc. Adam Winfield sent Facebook messages to his parents saying that his fellow soldiers had murdered a civilian and were planning to kill more. Winfield said his colleagues warned him not to tell anyone.

Winfield's father alerted a staff sergeant at Lewis-McChord but no action was taken until May, when a witness in a drug investigation in the unit reported the deaths.

Winfield is accused of participating in the final murder. He admitted in a videotaped interview that he took part and said he feared the others might kill him if he didn't.

Also charged in the murders are Pvt. 1st Class Andrew Holmes and Spc. Michael Wagnon II.

Seven other soldiers in the platoon were charged with lesser crimes, including assaulting the witness in the drug investigation, drug use, firing on unarmed farmers and stabbing a corpse.

In addition, Morlock admitted to smoking hashish while stationed in Afghanistan, though he said he was not under the influence of the drug at the time of the killings. He also admitted to being one of six soldiers who assaulted a fellow platoon member after that man reported the drug use going on in the platoon.

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