Michael Behenna Pardoned by President Trump
Former Army 1st Lt Michael Behenna was serving in Iraq in 2008, when a suspected Al-Qaeda terrorist named Ali Mansur was captured. The Lt was ordered to take the man home, but the suspected terrorist ended up dead, and the Lt convicted of unpremeditated murder. President Trump pardoned the former Army Lieutenant. It was a long-awaited victory for the Behenna family, but a reflection of numerous other trials that reveal systemic flaws in the process.
Michael Behenna admitted to the court that instead of taking the man home, he took him to a railroad culvert, stripped, him, and held him at gunpoint to question him about the roadside bomb that killed two of his platoon members. It was at that point that the man allegedly threw a piece of concrete at him and lunged for his weapon. The Lt shot him, and was subsequently convicted of unpremeditated murder.
The prosecution failed to reveal any exculpatory evidence to the jury and did their job so well that all hope of a self-defense verdict was drowned in a sea of negative press. Does that sound familiar yet? It is a systemic problem within cases that are tried in the court of public opinion and prosecutorial misconduct. And there is no accountability for the prosecutors who refuse to allow any evidence to the jury that shows the opposite of what they promote.
Behenna was sentenced originally to 25 years, but the Army noted that the trial was mishandled, and reduced his sentence to 15 years and paroled him as soon as he was eligible in 2014. He now runs a cattle ranch in Oklahoma.
The Behenna family was contacted by the prosecutor’s own expert, who said that his evidence supported a claim of self defense. The prosecution buried it and did not disclose it to the jury.
Support for the pardon came in from 37 generals and admirals, a former Pentagon Inspector General, and numerous others.
Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter initially requested a pardon for Behenna in February 2018 and renewed his request last month. Hunter said he believed Behenna’s conviction was unjustified because of erroneous jury instructions and the failure of prosecutors to turn over evidence supporting a self-defense claim. The White House statement said that former Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and “numerous members” of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation had also expressed support for Behenna.
Thank goodness the President listened to those who supported the former 1st Lt. There are numerous examples of egregious behavior on the part of prosecutors, whether direct military or US attorneys. Failure to release exculpatory evidence – the kind that favors the defense – is misconduct under any rule. Yet they get away with it on a regular basis.
There are many more in prison needing pardons… Blackwater contractor Nick Slatten who was convicted of killing someone that another contractor admitted to killing, the sentences overturned for three Blackwater contractors who still languish in prison even though the judge noted problems with the trial…the list continues to grow. Decorated Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher whose trial is yet to begin, but appears on the same negative track as others. It’s systemic, folks, and it needs to stop.
Featured photo: screenshot of Army Ranger 1st Lt Michael Behenna