Wash. soldier faces court martial in Afghan deaths

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JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. (AP) -- Opening statements are underway at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in the court-martial of an Army staff sergeant accused of killing three Afghan civilians last year.

Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, of Billings, Mont., has maintained the killings of the men early last year were legitimate. He pleaded not guilty Friday to 16 criminal charges.

One of the military prosecutors, Capt. Dan Mazzone, told the panel of five jurors that this isn't a case where they have to second-guess a soldier's decisions during battle. He said Gibbs wanted to kill people just to kill them.

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