US soldier found guilty in Afghan thrill-killings

November 10, 2011 - 7:00 PM

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. (AP) — A U.S. Army soldier accused of exhorting his bored underlings to slaughter Afghan civilians for sport has been convicted of murder, conspiracy and all other charges at his court martial.

Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, of Billings, Mont., is the highest ranking of five soldiers charged in the deaths of the three unarmed men during patrols in Kandahar province early last year.

During his eight-day court martial at Joint Base Lewis-McChord south of Seattle, he acknowledged cutting fingers off the victims' corpses to keep as war trophies. But he insisted that — as far as he knew — the killings occurred during legitimate combat.

Prosecutors said Gibbs and his co-defendants knew the victims posed no danger, but dropped weapons by their dead bodies to make them appear to have been combatants.

Gibbs faces up to life in prison without parole.