Soldier Who Pleaded Guilty in Afghan 'Kill Team' Case Released

Private First Class Andrew Holmes (Photo: U.S. Army)
Private First Class Andrew Holmes (Photo: U.S. Army)

U.S. Army Pfc. Andrew "Andy" Holmes is back in Boise, Idaho his father told the Statesman October 27.

The soldier was sentenced to spend seven years in prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kanasas, for killing an unarmed 15-year-old Afghan boy while on patrol in 2010. He was released early for good behavior.

"I'm very happy to have my son home, and looking forward to Andy moving forward with his life," said Forest Holmes, who lives in Pocatello, Idaho. "Hopefully he'll make the best of the opportunity he's being given."

Holmes said his son earned his barber's certificate during his incarceration, so the 2008 Centennial High graduate has a job skill that he can use to begin building a new life.

"He's got a good outlook. It was definitely a challenge, but he has a good outlook going forward," Forest Holmes said. He said Andy is looking forward to spending time with family, including his mother, Dana Holmes, who lives in Boise, and his grandmother.

In a October 24 message posted to the public Facebook group "We stand behind PFC Andrew Holmes," Dana Holmes said government officials agreed to put Andy Holmes on a flight to Boise Sunday. Others posted photos of family and friends greeting Holmes with hugs at the Boise Airport.

A GoFundMe account created in early October to help defray the cost of Holmes' travel home raised $1,450 from 20 contributors.

Holmes was the youngest of five soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington's 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division who came home from Afghanistan accused of being part of a "kill team" that murdered three Afghans. He was 19 when he shot an unarmed boy standing in a poppy field.

At his sentencing in September of 2011, Holmes said a higher-ranking soldier, Spc. Jeremy Morlock, had commanded him to shoot the boy, Gul Mudin.

"I could see his hands were empty," Holmes said in court at Lewis-McChord. "I could see he didn't have a weapon."

Holmes said in court that he fired six to eight rounds with his automatic machine gun. "I've regretted it ever since," he said.

Morlock was reportedly the right-hand man to "kill team" ringleader Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs. Gibbs was sentenced to life in prison for orchestrating the murders of three Afghan civilians. Morlock is at Leavenworth on a 24-year sentence.

A pre-trial agreement capped Holmes' incarceration at seven years. He received 499 days credit for time served.

The (Tacoma) News Tribune Military Reporter Ashton Adam contributed to this story.

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