The Army Blotter: Movie shooter pleads, "rogue platoon" news, and Canada commander's OEF fling


An Iraq vet who shot a noisy fellow moviegoer in Philadelphia during “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” on Christmas 2008 pleaded guilty yesterday to aggravated assault and possessing an instrument of crime. James Cialella, 31, a former sergeant, tried to break up a fight in the theater when he was attacked. Cialella, who had a North Carolina gun permit, fired in self defense, his attorney said. [via Philadelphia Inquirer]

  • The Army is investigating officers who oversaw the group of Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldiers that allegedly murdered civilians and committed other crimes during their recent deployment to southern Afghanistan. The Article 15-6 investigation is the first sign that the Army is moving up the chain of command in the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division to review officers who could have halted the alleged misconduct before it escalated to war crimes that have generated international headlines. [via News-Tribune]

  • A member of the Lewis-McChord platoon voiced doubts in a military courtroom that the shooting of an Afghan man could have been a premeditated murder staged to look like a combat death, as the Army alleges. Spc. Ryan Mallett, 22, testified in a hearing for Spc. Michael Wagnon, one of his platoon mates, that there didn’t appear to be time for anyone to plant an enemy AK-47 rifle next to the body. [via News-Tribune]
  • A military lawyer for one of the accused Stryker soldiers is quitting the case, according to his co-counsel, who declined to explain why. Former Army lawyer Michael Waddington is leaving Spc. Jeremy Morlock’s defense team. Civilian attorney Geoffrey Nathan and Army Capt. Mark Opachan are staying on the case. Morlock is one of the five soldiers accused of murdering civilians during the brigade’s recent deployment to southern Afghanistan. Morlock faces a life sentence if he’s convicted at a court martial trial at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. [via News-Tribune]
  • A former Canadian commander charged for a five-month fling in Kandahar now faces 40 years in jail and a dishonorable discharge from the military in a court martial to be held next year. Brig. Gen. Daniel Menard was head of 2,800 Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan and set to take responsibility for the Quebec operations of the army when he was accused of having an extramarital affair with a subordinate last May. He and Master Cpl. Bianka Langlois were dispatched home from the war when word of the affair emerged and while the Canadian Forces carried out an investigation. [via The Toronto Star]
  • A decorated Army officer who handles therapy dogs is recovering from a motorcycle accident in North Carolina after being injured in a fall in Iraq in 2007. Sparky Edwards, whose dogs are used in interviews with abused children, said he wants to return to work. Edwards earned a bronze star and a purple heart in Iraq, where he suffered a 25-foot fall in January 2007. [via Muskogee Phoenix]
  • A federal judge in Columbus has sentenced two protesters to serve six months in prison for trespassing onto Fort Benning, Ga., during weekend demonstrations outside the Army post. [via Associated Press/Army Times]

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