Defense asks Army to release soldier pending trial -

Defense asks Army to release soldier pending trial

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. (AP) -- One of five soldiers accused of killing civilians in Afghanistan has asked an Army judge to release him from jail while he waits for his court-martial, set for June.  

Spc. Michael Wagnon, of Las Vegas, has been confined at Joint Base Lewis-McChord since last June.  

Wagnon's lawyers told military judge Lt. Col. Kwasi Hawks on Thursday that Wagnon is not a flight risk.  

Hawks said he would consider releasing Wagnon.  

Defense lawyers also asked the judge to dismiss the Army's case against Wagnon, saying prosecutors violated his right to a speedy trial.  

He was accused of murdering a civilian in February 2010 and trying to obstruct the investigation by destroying evidence.  

An Army investigator, Maj. Michael Liles, conducted a preliminary hearing last fall and found there was not enough evidence to sustain charges that Wagnon deliberately killed any civilian or conspired to kill civilians. 

The Army dropped the obstruction charge but said it would proceed with a court-martial against Wagnon on charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder.  

Spc. Jeremy Morlock, the first of the five to be court-martialed, was sentenced last month to 24 years in prison after pleading guilty to three counts of murder and related charges.  

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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