The U.S. Army has dismissed all charges against the last of five soldiers to face a court-martial in the slaying of unarmed Afghan civilians, officials from their home base near Tacoma, Washington, said on Friday.
Army Specialist Michael Wagnon, who was released from military detention and placed under home confinement in April, had been charged with premeditated murder in the death of a villager in Afghanistan during a tour of duty in February 2010.
"As of right now, he's pretty much a free man," said Lieutenant Colonel Gary Dangerfield, a spokesman for Joint Base Lewis-McChord. "He is still in the Army but a free man."
The dismissal of the case against Wagnon, 31, brought to an abrupt end the Army's prosecution of the most egregious atrocities that U.S. military personnel have been convicted of committing during a decade of war in Afghanistan.
Wagnon's initial reaction to news of the dismissal was stunned disbelief, his defense attorney Colby Vokey told Reuters late on Friday. He then became "ecstatic" and "really relieved."