A documentary on a former soldier from Cape Coral who became entangled in a plot by his peers to kill Afghan civilians premiers this week at a film festival.
"The Kill Team," from Oscar-nominated director Dan Krauss, is the story of former Army Spc. Adam C. Winfield, who tried to alert the military to killings being committed by a group of U.S. soldiers, according to press information.
The group, which called itself The Kill Team, threatened to silence Winfield permanently. When the group carried out another murder in his presence, he had to choose between taking a stand and risking his life, or playing along.
Adam Winfield (center) with his parents, Chris (left) and Emma (right).
Photo by Dan Krauss
Winfield chose the latter.
Soon after, military officials announced that several soldiers, including Winfield, had been implicated in the deaths of three Afghan civilians. The soldiers were charged with premeditated murder, among other counts.
"The Kill Team," selected to take part in the Tribeca Film Festival's World Documentary Feature competition, follows two parallel storylines. It weaves together Winfield's legal battle with the details of what occurred overseas.
The storylines collide when Winfield faces a critical decision within both - whether to go to trial or take a plea deal in the present, and whether to take a stand in order to protect a civilian or watch the killing occur in the past.
The Tribeca Film Festival, held in New York, runs through April 28.
Winfield declined to comment Thursday through a relative.
"He's just not at that point yet," his father, Christopher Winfield, said.
Winfield served as a spokesperson for his son and family throughout the course of the case. Winfield was the one who first reported to the military, at his son's request, what was going on in Afghanistan with The Kill Team.
No action was taken by the military at the time.
Winfield explained that his family was initially approached by the film's producer because he wanted to interview those tied to what was then an alleged murder plot. The national media were just picking up the story.
Winfield said that after interviewing his family, the producer began to question why Adam was being charged and the film was proposed.
"That's kind of where the story took off," he said.
The family agreed to participate because of what was going on.
"We kind of felt like nobody wanted to hear the story in the government," Winfield said. "As far as we were concerned, the government was trying to railroad Adam, and we wanted the true story told."
"Our family's been through hell the last three years," he added.
Winfield called "The Kill Team" an accurate portrayal of the events.
"It's an accurate picture of what happened," he said.
His family hopes that the documentary gets picked up for a movie.
"We want people to see what happened," Winfield said. "I don't know if it's happened before, but we can't let it happen again."
"It was a bad situation for everybody, and the government swept things under the carpet," he added.
Adam Winfield eventually accepted a deal and pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and illegal use of a controlled substance. He was sentenced to three years in prison with a bad conduct discharge. In August, he got out.
"He's home. He's in school," Winfield said, noting that his son is currently taking his general education courses. "He's trying to get his life back."
"It's pretty amazing how strong he is," he added of his son. "He's stronger than I ever thought he would be."
There is an automatic appeals process in place with the conviction.
"It's a long drawn out process," Winfield said.
Still, the family wants justice.
"They convicted him on saying that he didn't stop what was going on over there," he said. "Well, he tried to stop what was going on over there to the best of his ability, without getting himself killed."
The family would also like to see Adam's name cleared.
"We feel like his name, his honor has been thrown in the mud by the government, the Army," Winfield said, pointing out that having the film out in the public may help. "We want to show that he tried to do the right thing."
"We don't want it to happen again to somebody else," he added.
Others tied to the killings are serving out their sentences.
Former Spc. Jeremy Morlock, of Wasilla, Alaska, pleaded guilty to three specifications of premeditated murder, among others, in a plea deal that included testifying against his co-defendants. He got 24 years in prison.
Former Pvt. 1st Class Andrew H. Holmes, of Boise, Idaho, pleaded guilty to murder and wrongfully using a controlled substance in a plea deal. The judge sentenced him to 15 years, but it was capped at seven years per the deal.
Both Morlock and Holmes were dishonorably discharged.
A military panel found Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, of Billings, Mont., guilty in a court-martial of multiple specifications that included premeditated murder and committing an assault with a dangerous weapon, among other counts.
He received life in prison with the possibility of parole in 10 years.
Some referred to Gibbs as the ringleader of The Kill Team.
For more information, visit online at: www.killteammovie.com .