Soldier admits taking war trophies, denies murder



JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. (AP) — An attorney for an Army staff sergeant charged in the thrill killings of three Afghan civilians says his client did take fingers off bodies as war trophies, but he wasn’t involved in any murders.

The court martial for Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, of Billings, Mont., began Monday at Joint Base Lewis-McChord south of Seattle. He pleaded not guilty Friday to 16 criminal charges.

One of the military prosecutors, Capt. Dan Mazzone, told the panel of five jurors that Gibbs wanted to kill people just to kill them. Gibbs’ lawyer, Phil Stackhouse, said his hash-smoking comrades engaged in a conspiracy to lay the blame on him.

Gibbs is one of five soldiers from Lewis-McChord charged in the deaths. Codefendants said it was his idea to slaughter civilians and stage the deaths to make them appear to have been combatants.