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War crimes case expected to go to jury

The judge in a high profile war crimes court martial is expected to send the case to the jury today. Closing arguments are now complete in the case against Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs. He's accused of orchestrating the deaths of unarmed Afghan civilians.

Army prosecutor Major Robert Snow told the military jury their decision should not be difficult. His precise closing words: "Let your verdict speak the truth that Staff Sgt. Gibbs is a murderer."

The government portrays Gibbs as the alleged ringleader of the so-called rogue "kill team" in Afghanistan.

Gibbs' defense attorney says that subordinates concocted the tale to shift blame from their own reprehensible actions. Attorney Phil Stackhouse also says the lack of any forensic evidence from the murder scene in southern Afghanistan should create reasonable doubt in the jury.

Throughout the day, Sgt. Gibbs sat at the defense table wearing a dress uniform. His face held a hard, emotionless expression. If convicted of the murders, Gibbs faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Correspondent Tom Banse is an Olympia-based reporter with more than three decades of experience covering Washington and Oregon state government, public policy, business and breaking news stories. Most of his career was spent with public radio's Northwest News Network, but now in semi-retirement his work is appearing on other outlets.