Six months ago, Spc. Jeremy Morlock's attorneys discounted his ability to accurately recall war crimes he allegedly committed with other Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldiers in Afghanistan last year.
Morlock’s memory couldn’t be trusted, they argued, because he suffered traumatic head injuries, used a cocktail of prescription drugs and regularly smoked hashish during his deployment with the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.
Today Morlock, 23, of Wasilla, Alaska, is expected to accept a plea agreement that will make him the Army’s star witness in its prosecution of four platoon mates who allegedly murdered Afghan civilians for sport in combat-like situations.
He could go to prison for 24 years under the terms of a deal in which he agrees to plead guilty to three counts of murder, using drugs and conspiring to assault a platoon mate. He would face life in confinement if he fights the charges.
His testimony at today’s scheduled court-martial at Lewis-McChord likely will reverberate around the world following a German newsmagazine’s publication this week of a photo showing Morlock grinning over the bloodied corpse of an Afghan noncombatant he admits he killed last January.
His attorneys in September said Morlock coped with that stress by turning to hashish, which was readily available on his overseas base. Those drugs, they said, made him more susceptible to the influences of Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, the alleged mastermind of the civilian killings.
Gibbs denies the accusations, and his attorney has suggested that Morlock could have been the one responsible for the deaths. Gibbs is awaiting his court-martial in the next few months.
By any measure, Morlock is a flawed witness. Other soldiers have testified that Morlock was untrustworthy and an unreliable platoon mate. Some said Morlock abused drugs even before his deployment started in July 2009.
“We’re not too worried about any case built on Morlock,” said Dan Conway, a defense attorney representing Pfc. Andrew Holmes, one of the murder co-defendants.