A court martial sitting in Joint Base Lewis-McChord found an Army sergeant guilty of the premeditated murder of three Afghan nationals while serving as squad leader of a unit in the Second Infantry Division. In a series of gruesome attacks, Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs of Billings, Montana, led his “kill team” into conflict with unarmed Afghan civilians, admittedly chopping off fingers and pulling teeth of the dead victims to save as trophies.
Sergeant Gibbs, 26, faced life imprisonment without the possibility of parole following Thursday's verdict handed down by a five-member panel of jurors who deliberated for about five hours, according to the account of the proceeding published by Reuters. The same story relates that the jury of military men then decided that Gibbs could be eligible for parole after eight and one-half years of imprisonment.
Three other soldiers previously entered pleas on charges stemming from the killings and subsequent mutilations committed while serving under Gibbs. These three of the five members of the American armed forces accused of participating in these murders testified against their former leader, describing him as the instigator of raids on civilians in which the troops would construct fake combat scenarios that would justify the killings. A news article describing the court martial reported that Gibbs would bring “drop weapons” to the crime scenes so that it would appear to superiors that the squad was under attack and that the killings were made in self-defense.
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Courtroom sketch of Calvin Gibbs: AP Images