US soldier gets life sentence in Afghan killings

November 10, 2011 - 9:45 PM

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. (AP) — A U.S. Army soldier convicted of exhorting his bored underlings to slaughter three civilians for sport will be eligible for parole after serving 10 years in prison.

Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, of Billings, Mont., was convicted of murder, conspiracy and other charges at his court martial Thursday. The jury had the choice of sentencing him to life with or without the possibility of parole, and they chose the former.

Gibbs was the highest ranking of five soldiers charged in the deaths of the unarmed men during patrols in Kandahar province early last year. At his seven-day court martial at Joint Base Lewis-McChord south of Seattle, the 26-year-old acknowledged cutting fingers off corpses to keep as war trophies.

But he insisted he wasn't involved in the first or third killings, and in the second he merely returned fire.