Michael Behenna is a former Army First Lieutenant from Oklahoma who was sentenced to 25 years in prison by a military court in 2009, for unpremeditated murder in a combat zone.
Here is the timeline and details of the case from his defense fund site:
- September 2007: 1st Lieutenant Michael Behenna deployed to Iraq for his first combat experience
- April 21, 2008: Lt. Behenna’s platoon was attacked by Al Qaeda operatives. The attack resulted in death of two of Lt. Behenna’s platoon members, two Iraqi citizens, and wounded two additional soldiers under Lt. Behenna’s command.
- May 5, 2008: Known terrorist Ali Mansur was detained at his home for suspected involvement in the attack on Lt. Behenna’s platoon
- May 16, 2008: Army Intelligence orders the release of Mansur
- Lt. Behenna, who lost two members of his platoon just weeks earlier, was ordered to transport Mansur back to his home
- Lt. Behenna attempts a final interrogation of Mansur prior to his release
- During the interrogation, Behenna is attacked by Mansur and is forced to defend himself. During the altercation, the terrorist is killed.
- Lt. Behenna failed to properly report the incident
- July 2008: The U.S. Army charges Lt. Behenna with premeditated murder for the death of Al Qaeda operative and terrorist Ali Mansur.
- February 23, 2009: Lt. Behenna’s trial begins
- Government and defense experts agree on the trajectory of the bullets killing Mansur
- Prosecution expert Dr. Herbert MacDonnell initiated contact with defense attorneys explaining his agreement with the testimony of Lt. Behenna and his presentation to prosecutors supporting Lt. Behenna’s version of events.
- Dr. MacDonnell is not called to testify in the case and instead is sent home. Just before leaving the courthouse he picks up his coat from the prosecution room and says to the three prosecutors (Megan Poirier, Jason Elbert, and Erwin Roberts), ‘The explanation that Lt Behenna just testified to was the exact same scenario I told you yesterday. Lt Behenna is telling the truth.’
- Jack Zimmermann, defense counsel, asks prosecutors if they have any exculpatory evidence that should be provided to the defense (referring to Dr. MacDonnell’s demonstration). Prosecutors deny having any such evidence despite having been told by their own expert witness that Lt Behenna’s explanation was the only logical explanation.
- Prosecutors withholding of this evidence allowed them to argue that Lt. Behenna executed Ali Mansur while seated when the forensic experts, including Dr. MacDonnell, agree that Ali was standing with his arms outstretched when shot
- Lt. Behenna is convicted of unpremeditated murder and assault by a military panel of seven officers, none of whom had combat experience.
- Dr. MacDonnell contacts prosecution requesting that the information provided in his demonstration be given to the defense.
- Prosecutors provide such information after a verdict was rendered, but prior to sentencing.
- At the request of the presiding judge, Dr. MacDonnell provides his information to the court via telephone
- The judge orders both sides in the case to file briefs relating to a possible mistrial
- After reading the briefs the judge set an additional hearing and ordered additional briefs, including one from the defense requesting a new trial.
- On March 20, the judge denied defense motions to declare a mistrial and to order a new trial
- Lt. Behenna was paraded in handcuffs through the Nashville airport, the Milwaukee airport, and the Kansas City airport enroute to Fort Leavenworth Prison
On Monday, May 6, Behenna was granted clemency from President Trump, per a press release from the White House. The press release reads:
Mr. Behenna’s case has attracted broad support from the military, Oklahoma elected officials, and the public. Thirty-seven generals and admirals, along with a former Inspector General of the Department of Defense, signed a brief in support of Mr. Behenna’s self-defense claim. Numerous members of the Oklahoma congressional delegation, Oklahoma’s then-Governor Mary Fallin, and current Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter have also expressed support for Mr. Behenna. Further, while serving his sentence, Mr. Behenna was a model prisoner. In light of these facts, Mr. Behenna is entirely deserving of this Grant of Executive Clemency.
Behenna Deployed to Iraq in 2007, & Led an Infantry Platoon of 18 Men
The Washington Post reports – Behenna was an Army Ranger in the 101st Airborne Division.
He was convicted of murdering Ali Mansur, but always maintained that he was acting in self defense. He was given parole five years ago, but has continued to fight to overturn his conviction.
In 2008, Behenna shot and killed Ali Mansur, an Iraqi man. An intelligence report confirmed that Mansur was an explosives transporter for an Al Qa’ida cell. Per SCOTUS Blog, Mansur was held for ten days by the Army, and on the day he was supposed to be released, Behenna told him he was going to interrogate him one last time, and that he would kill him if he didn’t give him the information he wanted.
This isn’t the first time President Trump has shown his suppport for a military member who’s been convicted of a crime. On March 30, 2019, President Trump tweeted his support for Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher.
In honor of his past service to our Country, Navy Seal
#EddieGallagher will soon be moved to less restrictive confinement while he awaits his day in court. Process should move quickly! @foxandfriends @RepRalphNorman
Today, President Trump announced his decison to pardon the former Army Lieutenant, Michael Behenna.
While the usual suspects like the anti-Ameircan ACLU and the liberal media are up-in-arms over the pardon of Army Ranger Michael Behenna, almost everyone involved in his case agreed that it was the right decsion.
What do you think? Share your thoughts with us on his presidential pardon in the comment section below.