updated 8/14/2008 3:39:42 PM ET 2008-08-14T19:39:42

A Green Beret testified Thursday that his team sergeant, who faces possible court-martial in the killing and mutilation of an Afghan civilian, is a man he'd want by his side during battle.

Staff Sgt. Gregory Dubois testified at a military hearing that Master Sgt. Joseph D. Newell, 38, of Tecumseh, Michigan, was "a brave dude" in battle during their deployment to a remote fire base in Afghanistan. When the allegations came out, Dubois said he hoped Newell wouldn't be reported.

"The right thing to do was report it," Dubois said. "It's painful. The last thing in the world I wanted to see happen was it to go forward. I was hoping for something else."

Newell, who has served in the military for two decades, could face a murder charge in the March 5 killing of the Afghan man, who the team believed was an insurgent. Newell also is charged with cutting off the man's ear and stealing a scarf from his head.

Dubois and Newell are members of the 3rd Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg.

"He'll be there by my side," said Dubois about going into a fire fight with Newell.

The testimony came during the third day of the Article 32 hearing, which is similar to a civilian grand jury and is used to determine if there is enough evidence to send the charges to a formal trial or court-martial.

Like other witnesses, Dubois said Newell was more aggressive in battle than others on the team of nine to 12 men. Dubois said soldiers who met without Newell after the shooting disagreed on what to do next.

The only eyewitness to testify, Sgt. 1st Class Ricky Derring, has said Newell detained and questioned the man after spotting civilians who appeared to be watching their convoy.

'There is a mutiny here'
Derring said Newell shot the man in the chest and left the body in the desert. They went back to the body later, and Newell returned to their vehicle with a human ear, Derring said. Army investigators later found an ear in Newell's room at his base in Afghanistan.

But Dubois said he didn't hear anything during the convoy about a civilian being shot. He said he became aware of the allegations about a week later, when he heard two other team members discussing it.

Civilian defense lawyer Todd Conormon later suggested that after the shooting, "there is a mutiny here against the team sergeant," but he didn't elaborate.

The hearing officer will make a recommendation to the unit commander after he reviews the testimony and consults with a lawyer assigned to advise him. It usually takes weeks before a recommendation is completed.

Newell has been detained since he was notified of the charges at his base in Afghanistan. He is being held at the jail at Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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