Stryker sergeant faces hearing on court-martial

Sgt. Darren Jones is scheduled to appear in court at Joint Base Lewis-McChord this morning to face charges that he beat up another soldier and fired at Afghan civilians who did not pose a threat to him during his deployment with the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division earlier this year.

Jones, 29, of Pomona, Calif., is one of a dozen soldiers from his platoon facing misconduct charges. Five are accused of murdering civilians.

The Army has secured testimony from witnesses who were at both incidents at the center of the charges against Jones.

In May, Jones allegedly was one of seven soldiers who assaulted Pfc. Justin Stoner after Stoner raised concerns about drug use in their platoon. Stoner has an immunity deal that requires him to testify, and he has identified Jones as one of the soldiers who beat him up.

That assault led officers to Jones’ platoon and prompted an Army investigation that resulted in charges of war crimes against some of Jones’ comrades.

In March, Jones allegedly shot at civilians during a patrol. Staff Sgt. Robert Stevens testified at his own courtmartial hearing last week that the soldiers who were on the patrol observed the Afghans and knew they weren’t a threat. Stevens also has a plea deal that requires him to testify against his codefendants.

Jones is to appear before an Army investigating officer who will recommend whether Jones should be tried in a court-martial.

Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, the commander of Army forces at Lewis-McChord, has the final say on whether Jones must face a general court-martial on the charges.