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Originally published June 28, 2011 at 9:09 PM | Page modified June 29, 2011 at 9:59 AM

Inmate says Morlock told him he lied about plot

Pvt. Jeremy Morlock, while incarcerated at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, allegedly told another inmate he had falsely implicated two members of his platoon in the slayings of unarmed citizens in Afghanistan, according to a sworn statement by another inmate submitted as evidence in a pretrial hearing that ended Tuesday.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Pvt. Jeremy Morlock, while incarcerated at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, allegedly told another inmate he had falsely implicated two members of his platoon in the slayings of unarmed civilians in Afghanistan, according to a sworn statement by another inmate submitted as evidence in a pretrial hearing that ended on Tuesday.

Morlock is serving a 24-year sentence for the murders of three Afghans in 2010, and as part of a plea deal has agreed to testify against four other soldiers accused by Army prosecutors of participating in the slayings.

But during a May 25 conversation with another prison inmate, Morlock allegedly said two of those soldiers, Pfc. Andrew Holmes and Spc. Michael Wagnon, were not involved with the crimes.

"Pvt. Morlock said that Wagnon and Holmes had nothing to do with it, but he lied about their involvement to get the benefit of a better deal," said Spc. Ronald Washington, a prison inmate, in his sworn statement detailing his conversation with Morlock.

Washington said that before his incarceration, he had no knowledge of Morlock's crimes, and that he was not promised anything in exchange for his sworn statement.

Morlock, in a pretrial hearing for Wagnon that ended Tuesday, denied having talked to Washington about the war-crimes case, according to Colby Vokey, Wagnon's defense attorney.

Vokey and other defense attorneys will likely try to use Washington statement's to undermine the credibility of Morlock, who is expected to be a key witness in murder trials scheduled for September.

The war-crimes cases center on the slayings of three unarmed Afghans in January, February and May of 2010 while members of an infantry platoon from Joint Base Lewis-McChord patrolled in Afghanistan. Morlock has stated that the slayings were staged to make them appear to be legitimate combat deaths.

Morlock, in a sworn statement and in testimony this week, indicated that Wagnon was part of the February plot.

Vokey, in an interview after the hearing, said Morlock has not been consistent in his recounting of events surrounding the February slaying. Vokey also said that Morlock's version of events surrounding that slaying was challenged by other witnesses who testified during the two-day hearing that ended Tuesday.

Prosecutors declined to comment on Washington's statement. But an Army spokesman at the base, Maj. Chris Ophardt, said that the war-crimes investigation is ongoing and evidence continues to be as evaluated as it is submitted.

Hal Bernton: 206-464-2581 or hbernton@seattletimes.com

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