Yet another travesty of justice against our brave men and women fighting everyday in the war on terror. A crucial forensic witness was not allowed to testify because he would have cooberated the Army Ranger's testimony. This is outrageous and needs to be righted. Please read below, sign the petition and do whatever else you can to assist. Thanks.
In May 2008, a known member of an al Qaeda cell, Ali Mansur, was suspected of having organized an attack on the young Army Ranger's platoon, which killed two U.S. soldiers and injured two more under Lt. Behenna's command. For some unfathomable reason, Army intelligence ordered that Mansur be released and ordered Lt. Behenna, who was then 24, to escort the terrorist to his home.
On the way, Behenna questioned Mansur in an effort to learn additional information about other members of the terrorist cell, as well as who was financing it. During the interrogation, Mansur attacked Lt. Behenna, who killed the terrorist in self-defense.
The government cast Mansur as the "victim" and prosecuted Lt. Behenna for premeditated murder!
The following timeline was taken, in part, from the website that has been established in support of Lt. Behenna -- Defendmichael.com -- and confirmed by his mother, Vicki.
On February 23, 2009, Behenna went on trial. During the trial:
The government argued that Behenna executed Mansur while he was sitting on a rock, while Behenna said that he shot in self defense after Mansur stood up and tried to reach for the Lieutenant's gun during the interrogation.
A government expert, an Iraqi doctor who performed the autopsy, said that the bullets had a horizontal trajectory, suggesting a direct confrontation and not a scenario in which a defenseless Mansur sat helplessly on a rock while a standing Behenna shot him at a downward angle. In fact, both government and defense experts agreed on the trajectory of the bullets that killed Mansur.
In short order, the prosecution decided not to call to the stand another government expert, Dr. Herbert MacDonnell, but instead sent him home. But not before Dr. MacDonell told Behenna's defense attorney that he would have been a good witness for the defense.
While Dr. MacDonnell was picking up his coat in the prosecution room on his way out of the courthouse, he told the three prosecutors: "The explanation that Lt Behenna just testified to was the exact same scenario I told you yesterday. Lt Behenna is telling the truth."
Referring to Dr. MacDonnell's statement that he would have been a good witness, the defense counsel, Jack Zimmermann, asked the prosecutors if they had any exculpatory evidence that should be provided to the defense. (This is evidence favorable to the defendant in a criminal trial, which clears or tends to clear the defendant of guilt.) But the prosecutors denied having any such evidence despite having been told by their own expert witness that Lt Behenna's explanation was the only logical explanation of the events that had transpired.
Because this evidence was withheld, the prosecutors were able to argue that Lt. Behenna executed Ali Mansur while the "victim" was seated on a rock -- in spite of the testimony of forensic experts, including Dr. MacDonnell, who agreed that Mansur was standing with his arms outstretched when he was shot.
On February 27, 2009, Lt. Behenna was convicted of unpremeditated murder and assault by a military panel of seven officers -- none of whom were combat arms.
Following the trial, Dr. MacDonnell contacted the prosecutors again, asking that the information he provided them be given to the defense.
After Dr. MacDonnell's e-mail was provided to the defense counsel, Mr. Zimmermann moved for a mistrial.
Judge Theodore E. Dixon promptly ordered both sides in the case to file briefs relating to a possible mistrial, and, after reading the briefs, set a date for an additional hearing and ordered additional briefs, including one from the defense requesting a new trial.
But on March 20, Judge Dixon denied the defense motions to declare a mistrial and to order a new trial and sentenced Lt. Behenna to serve 25 years in Leavenworth penitentiary.
Lt. Behenna's attorneys are appealing the verdict. It is Vicki Behenna's understanding that the General of the 101st Airborne will review Michael's case in the next several weeks, in which case he can set aside the findings of guilt, order a new trial, or reduce Michael's sentence. After the General's decision, Michael's case will be docketed in the appellate court, a process that can take from one-to-three years for the appeal to be heard.
The Behennas and their many supporters have mobilized to help Michael and they urge everyone to contact his or her elected official to make sure that justice is done. And because the government has limitless resources but they don't, they've established a Legal Defense Fund to help their efforts.
1LT Michael Behenna Legal Defense Fund
c/o Jack Dawson, co-trustee
100 Park Avenue, Second Floor
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73102-8099
Rachel Lawrence Mor, co-trustee
3037 N.W. 63rd Street, Suite 251
Oklahoma City Oklahoma 73116
Please read Legal Disclosure before donating.
They've also promised to send a Defend Michael Wristband for any donation of $20 or more.
Please sign the petition for 1LT Michael Behenna to receive a Fair Trial!
Please Forward to everyone!!!
Read more here: http://www.gatheringofeagles.org/view144174b5701571378.html and here: http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/11336
Other links to important sites on this story:
Below are the phone numbers for Oklahoma Congresswoman Mary Falin, and Oklahoma Senators Inhoffe and Coburn. All 3 of these representatives are huge supporters of our troops. Mary Falin has advocated for Michael already, please call and THANK HER for all she has done so far! When I stood on the Cannon Bldg corner in DC so many times last year, Ms. Falin came out almost every time and thanked us for supporting our troops! So please thank her and ask if there is anything we can do to help her help Michael.
Senators Inhoffe and Coburn need to have their phones flooded with calls from all of us. Please be nice as they really do support our troops, but let them know they must do something to correct this injustice. Thank You so very much and please forward this to everyone you know. We can't sit by and let this happen to these brave men and women who risk their lives for all of us. Also, you can visit www.defendmichael.com and leave a comment and donate to his legal fund. With a mother's heart, I thank you!
The Band of Mothers
Thank you all for your support!