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Retrial of Blackwater Defendant Nick Slatten Results in Mistrial. What’s Next?

 In Politics, Veterans

After 16 days of deliberations, the jury for the retrial of Nick Slatten, one of the Blackwater defendants, could not reach a verdict. Judge Royce Lamberth declared a mistrial. Now Nick will have to face a third trial unless his attorneys’ request for a judgment of aquittal is granted.

The first time the government charged Nick, it was for manslaughter- that case was dismissed due to civil  rights violations. The next time the government tightened the noose with obfuscations that boggle the mind.

Slatten was convicted of murder after the prosecution did everything in their power to paint him as a “hater of Iraqis” who “recklessly gunned down innocent people” in a white Kia. Except…

Someone else had already confessed to shooting first. But the jury was not allowed to hear that testimony at the time of his conviction.
The court of appeals overturned his murder conviction, so the government decided to retry him. Eleven years AFTER the incident in Nisur Square, they attempted to retry the entire case. It didn’t work. There was more than enough reasonable doubt this time around so the jury deadlocked.

We spoke with his sister Jess, herself a lawyer, who told us that the trial has been “devastating on so many levels.”

“Nick always wanted to serve his country. To have his country turn on him like this is shaking our faith in the government. They know he did not do what they said he did. It’s an appeasement to Iraq. Paul Slough already confessed to shooting the driver in self defense, and Jeremy Ridgeway shot the passenger. They tried Nick for guilt by association based on Ridgeway’s admitted crimes.” Jessica Slatten

The father of the driver who was killed refused to testify against Slatten because “you told me someone else killed them.”

Think about it.

In the opening statements by Defense attorney Dane Buswinkas, he stated:

1) Four eyewitnesses say it was someone else: Four.
2) No eyewitnesses say they saw Nick shoot and kill the driver
of that white Kia; none.
3) A bullet fragment taken from the steering wheel of
  the white Kia corroborates what those eyewitnesses saw; not
my own handy detective work, the Government’s own report.
4) No ballistics evidence that you will hear about in this
trial implicates this young man; none.
Now, if it’s that simple, why does it take six
weeks of your time? It shouldn’t. It doesn’t. But that’s
what happens when the Government’s case does what my mom
used to call: Going around the block to get across the
street.

More than enough reasonable doubt

Powerful words, that at least someone on that jury heeded. A First Degree murder charge must have several elements: that the person actually killed the victim, that there was malice aforethought, that it was done with premeditation, that there were no mitigating circumstances,  that the act was committed in Baghdad, and that he was an employee of the military (he was charged under MEJA).

First, Nick was not in the employ of the military at the time of the incident- he was a private contractor to the State Department. MEJA was created for the military.

The Raven 23 team felt there was danger in the white KIA coming toward them and not stopping even after being warned. That’s mitigating – it could have been a VBIED.

As to malice aforethought or premeditation, those are ridiculous assertions, since it would have been impossible to know that the exact circumstances that were about to occur in Nisur Square before they happened.

And then there was the confession of another person over the killing itself. The first jury never heard the confession of Paul Slough for killing the driver. In Slatten’s retrial, the government improperly told Slatten’s jury that if they thought Paul Slough had killed the driver they would have charged Slough, except the government did not tell the second jury that they had, in fact, previously charged Slough (and others) with killing the driver and only changed their entire theory of the case just prior to the first trial, AFTER the appellate court ruled that the government could not charge Slatten with manslaughter because the statute of limitations had expired. But the government has found a scapegoat in Nick Slatten and they intend to make him an example even though he is innocent of the charges.

But they have found a scapegoat in Nick Slatten and they intend to make him an example even though he is innocent of the charges.

Is this appeasement? Is the government lying?

The Raven 23 team stated that they were under fire in Nisur Square the day of the incident. AK 47 casings were found at the scene. And in spite of a contractor apart from Blackwater testifying that he heard a clear two way firefight, that testimony was ignored entirely.

One government witness, a retired Army colonel, attempted to claim that the casings found at the scene had been there a long time and were “buried in the ground.”

You judge:

This is the bus stop where the AK 47 shell casings were found

These are the casings that the witness claimed were “old and embedded in the ground.” The photo was taken by an American Captain, who claimed he turned them all into the FBI. The FBI “lost them” and “accidentally” didn’t bring them up until midway through the original trial.

Keep in mind that the Iraqi Police Colonel who processed the crime scene may have been tied to insurgents, a piece of information only brought up during the pretrial motions, and never heard by the jury in either trial. The Colonel allegedly coached the witnesses on their testimony, as well as actually “helped” write some of their testimony. Sounds like “collusion” from our standpoint.

What happens now?

Nick Slatten’s attorneys have filed a motion for judgment of aquittal. The government is spending inordinate amounts of money by attempting to being Nick to trial again. The longer this goes on, the less accurate any testimony by anyone. There is more than enough reasonable doubt for this man to be aquitted.

The other three Raven 23 defendants, Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty, and Paul Slough, had their sentences thrown out on appeal because the sentences associated with the Federal weapons law convictions were “egregious” for the crime (30 years). They are due to be resentenced, but that has not occurred at this time. Families are hoping for “time served” for the three defendants.

The government’s cooperator and admitted wrongdoer, Jeremy Ridgeway, was sentenced to a year and a day.

You can read more of the unbelievable lies that occurred in our previous stories.

Comments

comments

Showing 2 comments
  • PCinDC
    Reply

    As always, thanks Faye Higbee, for digging deep, getting to the truth of the matter, and then reporting it. To document the entire list of egregious ethical and procedural violations committed during these three trials, one need write a book.

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