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Soldier from Las Vegas to face court-martial, Army decides

SEATTLE — The Army will try in military court one of five soldiers accused of killing civilians in Afghanistan for sport, a statement said Monday, despite an investigator’s recommendations to drop the murder and conspiracy charges.

Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti decided to proceed with a court-martial against Spc. Michael Wagnon II on charges of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit assault and assault with a dangerous weapon, a statement from Joint Base Lewis-McChord said.

If convicted, Wagnon could be sentenced to life in prison.

The Army dismissed two charges: one alleging that Wagnon kept a piece of skull from an Afghan corpse and the other accusing him of trying to obstruct the Army’s investigation into his platoon by destroying images of Afghan casualties on his computer.

An Army investigator had conducted a preliminary hearing in Wagnon’s case and found that there was not enough evidence to sustain charges that Wagnon deliberately killed any civilian or conspired to kill civilians.

Base spokeswoman Maj. Kathleen Turner said Liles’ report was “just a recommendation” and not binding.

Wagnon, of Las Vegas, is among five soldiers from the base, south of Seattle, who were accused of killing three Afghans . Four other defendants have had their cases referred for court martial.

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