Dressed in a t-shirt and Army shorts, a 22-year-old corporal from Wasilla, Alaska casually describes on a video tape made by military investigators how his unit's "crazy" sergeant randomly chose three unarmed, innocent victims to be murdered in Afghanistan.
Corporal Jeremy N. Morlock is one of five GI's charged with pre-meditated murder in a case that includes allegations of widespread drug use, the collection of body parts and photos of the U.S. soldiers holding the Afghan bodies like hunter's trophies.
All five soldiers were part of the 5th Stryker Combat Brigade, of the 2nd Infantry Division, based at Ft. Lewis-McChord, Washington. In charging documents released by the Army, the military alleges that the five, Staff Sgt. Calvin R. Gibbs, Spec Adam C. Winfield, Spec. Michael S. Wagnon II, Pfc. Andrew H. Holmes and Morlock were involved in one or more of three murders that took place between January and May of this year.
Lawyers and family members of the soldiers say they all intend to fight the charges.
An Article 32 hearing for Morlock, the military equivalent of a grand jury, is scheduled later today at Fort Lewis-McChord, Washington.
On the tape, obtained by ABC News, Morlock admits his role in the deaths of three Afghans but claims the plan was organized by his unit's sergeant, Calvin Gibbs, who is also charged with pre-meditated murder.
"He just really doesn't have any problems with f---ing killing these people," Morlock said on tape as he laid out the scenario he said the sergeant used to make it seem the civilians were killed in action.
"And so we identify a guy. Gibbs makes a comment, like, you know, you guys wanna wax this guy or what?" Morlock told military investigators during an interview videotaped in May at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.
The corporal said Gibbs gave orders to open fire on the civilian at the same time Gibbs threw a hand grenade at the victim.
"He pulled out one of his grenades, an American grenade, you know, popped it, throws it, tells me where to go to whack this guy, kill this guy, kill this guy," Morlock told the investigators.
Allegations that US Soldiers Killed Innocent Civilians in Afghanistan
Morlock said Sergeant Gibbs carried a Russian grenade to throw next to the body of the dead Afghan, to make it seem he was about to attack the American soldiers.
The corporal said he opened fire as directed, fearful of not following Gibbs' orders.
"It's definitely not the right thing to do," Morlock told the investigators. "But I mean, when you got a squad leader bringing you into that, that type of real, that mindset, and he believes that you're on board with that, there's definitely no way you wanted him to think otherwise."
The investigator asked Morlock, "Because you felt maybe the next shot might be coming your way?"
"You never know. Exactly," answered Morlock. "I mean Gibbs talked about how easy it is, people disappear on the battlefield all the time."
A lawyer for Gibbs declined to comment. All five charged are in military custody.
Morlock's lawyer, Michael Waddington, said his client made his confession at a time when he was taking heavy medication.
"My client did not kill anyone," said Waddington. "He did not use any bullets or any grenades to kill any of these individuals."
In addition to murder, the Army's charging documents allege rampant drug use in Morlock's unit, as well as the dismemberment of dead Afghan civilians.
Cpl. Morlock describes how Sergeant Gibbs allegedly collected the fingers of some of his Afghan victims.
"It's his thing now," said Morlock. "I don't know, his crazy stuff. War trophies, whatever."
Morlock said Gibbs boasted of carrying out similar murders in Iraq but was never caught and threatened the men in his unit with harm if they refused to participate or revealed what was happening.
"If Gibbs knew that I was sitting in front of this camera right now, there's no doubt in my mind that he'd f---ing take me out if he had to," Morlock told the Army investigators.