US soldier gets 24 years for murders of 3 Afghans

A military judge has sentenced a U.S. soldier to 24 years in prison for his role in a conspiracy with fellow soldiers that led to the murders of three unarmed Afghan civilians.

The decision by Lt. Col. Kwasi Hawks on Wednesday comes after Spc. Jeremy Morlock pleaded guilty to three counts of murder, and one count each of conspiracy, obstructing justice and illegal drug use at his court martial at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

The judge said he intended to sentence Morlock to life in prison with possibility of parole but he was bound the plea deal that called for a maximum sentence of 24 years.

The 22-year-old Morlock is one of five soldiers from the 5th Stryker Brigade charged in the 2010 killings of three Afghans in Kandahar province. He was the first to be court-martialed.