JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – The war crimes trial of Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs continues Tuesday at Lewis-McChord Army base . In opening statements Monday, prosecutors portrayed Gibbs as the ringleader of a so-called "kill team" that targeted unarmed Afghan civilians.
The defense counters that Gibbs is a fall guy who's been betrayed by his fellow soldiers.
Gibbs is the highest ranking soldier charged in connection with three alleged murders of Afghan villagers and other crimes while deployed last year.
In opening statements, one of the prosecutors said, "This is not a case about the fog of war. This is a case about premeditated murder." Gibbs is accused of devising scenarios to frame innocent Afghans.
The idea was to stage fake attacks in order to justify their murders. A key witness in the case is Private Jeremy Morlock, described as Gibbs' "right hand man." He previously pleaded guilty to murder as part of a deal with prosecutors.
On the stand, Morlock testified that Gibbs viewed Afghan nationals with "disdain" and recruited members of their platoon to participate in the killings. The defense admits Gibbs shot one man in self-defense and cut fingers from dead Afghans.
But attorney Phil Stackhouse says Gibbs did not commit murder and calls the case against his client the "ultimate betrayal of an infantryman."
Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network