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Alleged "kill team" leader takes stand in his own defense

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – The alleged ringleader of the so-called Army “kill team” war crimes case took the stand in his own defense Friday at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs is charged with murdering three civilians while deployed in Afghanistan last year. Correspondent Austin Jenkins says under defense questioning Gibbs justified his killing of one of the victims.

Austin Jenkins: "The prosecution alleges Sgt. Calvin Gibbs shot an unarmed Afghan civilian and then dropped an AK-47 rifle at the man's feet to make it look like he had been armed. On the stand, Calvin Gibbs denied this. He said that he'd come around a corner, he'd been fired upon and returned fire. Asked by his defense attorney if he had any regrets about that incident, he said, 'As for killing that man, he needed to die.' He said his only regret was that after the killing, he cut off the man's trigger finger in anger."

This afternoon, Gibbs continued to answer questions for the defense aimed at refuting previous prosecution witnesses. The court martial will continue next week with more defense witnesses.

Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.