EDMOND – An Edmond soldier convicted of murder will soon be coming home.
Former U.S. Army First Lt. Michael Behenna won his request for parole.
Behenna served 5 years of a 15 year prison sentence at Fort Leavenworth prison in Kansas.
“I’m just so grateful and happy that Michael is finally coming home,” said Behenna’s mother Vicki Behenna.
Vicki says her son’s early parole comes as a huge relief, because, despite tens of thousands of people signing an online petition asking for a new trial, for 5 years those appeals were repeatedly denied.
“It’s the first thing that has fallen his way,” said Vicki. “The appeals didn’t ever fall his want, so I was just so very grateful.”
In 2009 a jury convicted Behenna of murder.
According to prosecutors, Behenna shot and killed a man named Ali Mansur Mohammed, an Iraqi with ties to al-Qaida, during an interrogation about a roadside attack that killed two of Behenna’s fellow soldiers.
Behenna always maintained he acted in self-defense.
“This was a man that was face to face with al-Qaida and who shot because he thought the man was going to take his weapon from him,” said Vicki.
After learning of the Behenna’s parole, governor Mary Fallin released a statement which read, “I am glad this long ordeal has finally come to an end for Michael Behenna and his family. I believe the Army acted appropriately and compassionately in offering him parole.”
Vicki says the next step is seeking a Presidential pardon to clear her son’s name.
“What I want is some recognition that this shooting occurred in a combat zone,” said Vicki. “A Presidential pardon would recognize these soldiers are placed in difficult situations in combat.”
Behenna is set to be released from prison next month.