The court was held at a military base Lewis McCord, Washington. In the process, Morelock pleaded guilty. The corporal also admitted to illegal drug use.
This sentence has become the first in case of murder of three Afghans in Kandahar province. Besides Morlock, four other servicemen of the fifth brigade of the Stryker armoured combat vehicle of the U.S. Second Infantry Division, are targeted in the investigation: Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, Private Andrew Holmes, Specialist Michael Uegnon and Specialist Adam Winfield.
The defendants are accused that in the period from January to May 2010 they killed innocent civilians, and only for fun, following which they dismembered and photographed corpses, and preserved the bones and skulls as trophies.
To make out that the victims were killed in battle, the suspects maimed their bodies, using grenades and guns.
At the recently published photographs Morelock and other soldiers are sitting next to the corpses of Afghans and scoffing at the dead bodies. At one of the photos Morelock smiles, raising by hair the head of the killed.
Initially, life sentence faced Morelock for the atrocities in Afghanistan, but eventually he got quite lenient sentence.
In this case, seven soldiers more are accused of trying to impede the investigation, as well as of threats to one of the defendants - Adam Winfield, who reported the crime.
Murder cases complicate the already difficult relations between Washington and Kabul, which worsened after the U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan had mistakenly killed President Hamid Karzai’s cousin, and the total number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan in recent months has increased several times.
So, on March 1, 2011, in the valley of Dara-e Peach Kunar NATO helicopters fired missiles at a group of children who went through the mountains in search of brushwood for habitation heating. As a result of air strikes nine children aged from 8 to 14 years old were killed, one child was injured.
Another two young Afghans were killed on March 15, 2011 in Kunar province in eastern Afghanistan. Their death was the result of a US Air Force pilot’s error.
Mission of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Kabul, on 15 March 2011 issued a statement which described the situation in Afghanistan in 2011 as catastrophic.
The ICRC drew attention to the erroneous attacks on innocent civilians, noting that the destruction of civilians undermine all international efforts aimed at resolving the Afghan conflict.
"The first two months of this year was dramatic in terms of the deteriorating security situation for the Afghan peaceful population. This is an unacceptable situation; all civilians should be protected from armed conflict to the maximum," says the ICRC statement.