Stryker soldier tells trial 'I did not commit murder'

Pfc. Andrew Holmes was aware of sadistic schemes two of his platoon mates plotted to kill Afghan civilians, but he said in a courtroom Monday that he was not a part of those plans.

“I just want to take this opportunity to look you in the eye, to tell you soldier to soldier, that I did not commit murder in January,” Holmes told Army investigating officer Maj. Michael Liles in a brief statement during his Article 32 hearing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

His words marked the first time a Stryker brigade war crimes codefendant has made a statement in open court; three others have had the opportunity during their pre-trial hearings.

Holmes, one of five soldiers in his platoon facing murder charges, told investigators in June that Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs and Spc. Jeremy Morlock had talked about killing Afghan children by luring them to their vehicle with candy, or by tossing a grenade at someone and calling it a combat engagement.

Holmes, 20, was in a Joint Base Lewis-McChord court Monday for a hearing to determine whether he will go through a full court-martial trial. He faces charges that he killed an Afghan noncombatant in a January incident that resembled a scenario orchestrated by a few of his platoon mates in the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.

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