A five-member military panel found Staff Sgt Calvin Gibbs guilty at the end of a week-long court martial yesterday, and said he should serve at least 10 years behind bars before being eligible for parole.
Gibbs was convicted on 15 counts in all, including three of premeditated murder for his role in three killings in Kandahar province during routine patrols between January and May last year.
Gibbs, however, pleaded not guilty, even though his other colleagues accused him of masterminding the killing of three unarmed Afghan civilians.
It is alleged that Gibbs gave orders to open fire on the civilian at the same time Gibbs threw a hand grenade at the victim.
"He pulled out one of his grenades, an American grenade, you know, popped it, throws it, tells me where to go to whack this guy, kill this guy, kill this guy," Jermey Morlock, one of the soldiers told the investigators.
Sergeant Gibbs had a charisma, he had a 'follow me' personality But it was all a bunch of crap.
He had his own mission: murder and depravity," prosecutor Maj. Robert Stelle said in closing arguments.
However, Gibbs's defense attorney, Phillip Stackhouse, argued that other witnesses had framed Gibbs for the deaths.