SAN DIEGO (Reuters) – A navy jury started deliberations on Monday within the struggle crimes trial of a U.S. Navy SEAL after closing arguments by which prosecutors mentioned the defendant’s personal phrases proved his guilt and the protection cited a scarcity of bodily proof to help the costs.
The case in opposition to Particular Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, whose prosecution has drawn White Home curiosity, went to a seven-member jury of U.S. Marines and Navy personnel because the trial part of his court-martial entered its third week.
The decide mentioned he was prepared to permit the jury to work as late as 10 p.m. on Monday ((0500 GMT Tuesday). However the session was adjourned with out a verdict 2-1/2 hours later on the panel’s request. The jurors have been to due resume deliberations on Tuesday morning.
A verdict requires settlement of at the least 5 of the seven jurors. If a conviction is rendered, the jurors will then decide the sentence.
The 39-year-old platoon chief is charged with committing the premeditated homicide of a captured Islamic State fighter, delivered to Gallagher’s outpost for medical therapy, by repeatedly stabbing the teenage prisoner within the neck with a custom-made knife.
Gallagher is also charged with tried homicide within the wounding of two non-combatants – a schoolgirl and an aged man – shot from a sniper’s perch, in addition to with obstruction of justice and unlawfully posing for pictures with the detainee’s corpse.
The chief petty officer, a embellished profession fight veteran who was arrested after his eighth abroad deployment, might face life in jail if convicted.
President Donald Trump intervened in Gallagher’s case months in the past, ordering that he be moved from pretrial detention in a navy brig to confinement at a Navy base. The presiding decide later launched Gallagher from custody altogether.
Gallagher has denied all expenses, insisting that disgruntled subordinates with no prior battlefield expertise fabricated allegations in opposition to him due to grievances along with his management type and fight techniques.
The Navy formally opened its investigation in September 2018, a few 12 months after Gallagher’s platoon returned from its deployment to Mosul in northern Iraq.
‘NO FORENSICS, NO CASE’
In his summation on Monday, civilian protection lawyer Timothy Parlatore mentioned prosecutors and Navy investigators succumbed to “tunnel imaginative and prescient” of their willpower to construct a case to help allegations in opposition to Gallagher, fairly than conducting an neutral inquiry.
He additionally pointed to a scarcity of bodily proof to bolster the costs. “No physique, no proof, no science, no forensics, no case,” Parlatore declared. “The ship has run round.”
The senior prosecutor, Navy Commander Jeffrey Pietrzyk, asserted, nevertheless, that Gallagher had implicated himself. Pietrzyk cited a photograph that Gallagher despatched to a pal in Might 2017 displaying him posed with the Iraqi detainee’s corpse, with the textual content message: “I acquired a cool story for you once I get again. I acquired him with my searching knife.”
“We all know the dying of this particular person is a direct results of Chief Gallagher’s stabbing this particular person within the neck along with his searching knife,” the prosecutor mentioned. “We all know that due to his personal phrases.”
The closing arguments capped an in any other case bumpy two weeks for Navy prosecutors.
In a shock twist throughout the trial’s first week, a Navy SEAL medic testified that it was he, not Gallagher, who brought on the dying of the gravely injured Iraqi detainee by blocking his respiration tube in what the witness described as a mercy killing.
Final week, two protection witnesses who have been current throughout the incident, an Iraqi common and a U.S. Marine sergeant who served because the unit’s intelligence officer, insisted they by no means noticed Gallagher or anybody else from the SEAL platoon stab or in any other case mistreat the detainee earlier than he died.
One other SEAL crew member who acted as a sniper’s spotter for Gallagher testified he by no means noticed the defendant shoot an unarmed aged non-combatant.
The jury consists of 5 Marines and two Navy personnel, all however one with fight expertise. Six of the panelists are enlisted personnel and only one is an officer.
Reporting by Marty Graham in San Diego; Writing and extra reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Enhancing by Peter Cooney