Court-martial for soldier accused of assault

July 7, 2011 - 11:14 PM

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. (AP) — An Army prosecutor says a soldier suspected of crimes while based in afghanistan was a key part of talks among Stryker platoon soldiers accused of plans that included killing Afghan civilians.

Maj. Dre Leblanc said he intends to show at a court-martial that Sgt. Darren Jones of Pomona, Calif., was part of conspiracies to harm Afghans and to intimidate a whistleblower who led Army investigators to the platoon.

Jones is accused of joining others in his unit in beating up a soldier who told authorities about drug use. Jones is charged with assault and impeding an investigation.

Defense lawyer Kevin McDermott countered in his opening statement Thursday that Jones had no role in conspiring to kill Afghan civilians. McDermott also contended that Jones and other soldiers were upset at the whistleblower, then-Pfc. Justin Stoner, simply because of his attitude and his performance.

Jones is one of seven 5th Stryker Brigade soldiers accused of crimes while deployed in Afghanistan.