Defense fights for photos

Lawyers representing a Stryker soldier accused of murdering an Afghan civilian pressed their case this week that the Army is denying him a fair hearing by withholding images of the man he allegedly killed.

Proceedings against Pfc. Andrew Holmes of Boise, Idaho, are on hold while the Army Court of Criminal Appeals considers whether the government should disclose the photos to his attorneys.

Dan Conway, Holmes’ attorney, submitted a brief to the court Wednesday that criticized the Army for concealing photos that could demonstrate whether Holmes was responsible for the Afghan’s death. He’s now awaiting a decision from the appeals court.

Holmes is one of five 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division soldiers at Joint Base Lewis-Mc-Chord who are accused of murdering three Afghan civilians during their d e p l o y - ment earlier this year.

Col. Barry Huggins, their brigade commander, has ordered that photos they took of Afghan casualties remain concealed out of concern that they could spark violence against American soldiers.

In the new brief, Conway argued that the government stacked the deck against Holmes by calling on witnesses to describe images of the man Holmes allegedly killed but not providing the same photos to a defense expert who could have analyzed the Afghan’s wounds to determine whose weapon caused the death. At least two other soldiers fired weapons at the Afghan.

“The idea that an accused combat veteran in pretrial confinement may be denied the ability to present exculpatory evidence while the government indirectly uses that very evidence for incriminating purposes is troubling,” Conway wrote.

Prosecutors contend that Holmes has received a fair hearing in accordance with the Uniform Code of Military Justice. They wrote in a brief to the court that Holmes can press his argument to release the photos with a military judge if the case proceeds to a full court-martial trial.