SAN DIEGO (Reuters) – A army jury in San Diego resumed deliberations on Tuesday within the battle crimes trial of a U.S. Navy SEAL charged with murdering a wounded Islamic State prisoner in his custody and capturing unarmed civilians throughout a 2017 deployment in Iraq.
The case in opposition to Particular Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, whose prosecution has drawn White Home consideration, went to the seven-member jury of U.S. Marines and Navy personnel on Monday because the trial part of his court-martial entered its third week.
A verdict requires settlement of not less than 5 of the seven jurors, all however considered one of whom have served in fight. If Gallagher is convicted, the panel additionally will decide the sentence.
Gallagher might face life in jail if discovered responsible of probably the most severe cost in opposition to him, premeditated homicide. A number of fellow SEAL group members testified that he fatally stabbed the captured Iraqi prisoner within the neck with a custom-made knife after the teenage fighter was dropped at Gallagher’s outpost for medical remedy.
Gallagher is also charged with tried homicide within the wounding of two noncombatants – 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.
Gallagher, 39, a platoon chief, has denied all fees, insisting that disgruntled subordinates with no prior battlefield expertise fabricated allegations in opposition to him over grievances together with his management type and fight ways.
U.S. President Donald Trump intervened in Gallagher’s case months in the past, ordering that he be moved from pretrial detention in a army brig to confinement at a Navy base. The presiding decide later launched Gallagher from custody altogether.
The chief petty officer, a embellished profession fight veteran, was arrested in 2018, greater than a yr after coming back from his eighth abroad deployment in Mosul, in northern Iraq.
In a shock twist throughout the first week of the trial at a army court docket at U.S. Naval Base San Diego, a Navy SEAL medic testified that it was he, not Gallagher, who brought on the loss of life of the gravely injured prisoner by blocking his respiratory tube, calling it a mercy killing.
Two protection witnesses – an Iraqi normal and a U.S. Marine workers sergeant – testified they by no means noticed the Iraqi captive mistreated by anybody whereas alive in American custody.
The senior prosecutor, Navy Commander Jeffrey Pietrzyk, mentioned in his closing arguments on Monday that Gallagher had implicated himself. He cited a photograph that Gallagher despatched to a pal in Could 2017 displaying him posed with the Iraqi detainee’s corpse, with the textual content message: “I received a cool story for you once I get again. I received him with my looking knife.”
Gallagher’s civilian protection lawyer, Timothy Parlatore, mentioned prosecutors and Navy investigators succumbed to “tunnel imaginative and prescient” of their willpower to construct a case in opposition to Gallagher, slightly than conducting an neutral inquiry.
“No physique, no proof, no science, no forensics, no case,” Parlatore mentioned. “The ship has run aground.”
Reporting by Marty Graham in San Diego, extra reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Modifying by Scott Malone, David Gregorio and Jonathan Oatis