FORT STEWART, Ga. — A soldier who survived a bullet creasing his head during shootings that left two of his Army roommates dead in Iraq told a military judge Friday that he can’t remember being shot or who pulled the trigger.
Prosecutors at Fort Stewart, however, have another witness who says that soldier, minutes after being wounded, identified the gunman as Spc. Neftaly Platero, who faces a court-martial on charges of premeditated murder. Defense attorneys are asking a military judge to declare that testimony off-limits at Platero’s trial because the wounded soldier can’t verify the statement.
Platero, of Kingwood, Texas, faces a possible life sentence in the Sept. 23, 2010, slayings of Pfc. Gebrah Noonan and Spc. John Carrillo Jr., who shared a room with the suspect in Fallujah.
The Army has said very little about the case. The most detailed public account yet was given in court Friday by Platero’s supervisor, Staff Sgt. Jhamaal Martin.
Martin testified that, a few hours before the shootings, Platero had complained to him about “filthy” conditions in the room he shared with the other soldiers. The sergeant said he inspected their room and found it to be unclean, but felt like Platero was overreacting.
Later that evening, Martin testified, he heard about five gunshots and ran into the building. He saw one of their infantry unit’s Iraqi interpreters, a man they called Sam, on top of Platero pinning him to the floor.
Martin said he went into Platero’s bunk room and immediately smelled gunpowder. He said he found Noonan, 26, of Watertown, Conn., sprawled bleeding on the floor. Carrillo, 20, of Stockton, Calif., lay bleeding and twitching on his bed.
Martin testified he found Pfc. Jeffrey Shonk, who also shared the room, with gunshot wound to his right leg and a bullet wound two-fingers wide creasing his scalp.
“I told him to lay back and stay with me,” Martin said. “Then Shonk says, ‘He shot us. Platero shot us.’ ”
Platero’s attorney, Guy Womack, says Martin shouldn’t be allowed to quote Shonk’s word to a jury at the court-martial, which is scheduled to start Feb. 6.