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Family welcomes home Edmond soldier convicted of murder

UPDATED: Family members awaited the homecoming over Former US Army First Lieutenant and Edmond native, Michael Behenna.

Behenna was convicted of murder in a combat zone, a sentence that originally carried 25 years before being reduced to 15 years.

Behenna served 5 years of the 15 year sentence.

On Friday, he was officially released.

EDMOND, Okla. – He left to fight for our country, but for the past five years the family of an Oklahoma Army officer has been fighting for his freedom.

Now, that soldier is almost home.

The former Army lieutenant isn’t returning from the battlefield, but from a prison at Ft. Leavenworth in Kansas.

Former US Army First Lieutenant and Edmond native, Michael Behenna won his request for parole last month.

He was fighting overseas in Iraq when he killed an unarmed Iraqi civilian with Al-Qaeda connections.

Behenna was convicted of murder in a combat zone, a sentence that originally carried 25 years before being reduced to 15 years.

Behenna served 5 years of the 15 year sentence.

On Friday, he was officially released.

Click here for more coverage of the case.

His family says after being released from custody, they will head to Kansas City to meet with his brother.

After the much-needed reunion, Behenna will then head back home to Oklahoma.

Family and friends say their celebrations won’t be anything over the top, just a prayer service at an Edmond church, where the Behennas have been members for almost 20 years.

Pastor Keith Falk, with Peace Lutheran Church, says, “Have you heard the news? Have you heard the news? Michael’s getting out! Michael’s getting out!’

The news spread like wildfire at Peace Lutheran Church in Edmond that one of their lifelong members, Michael Behenna, was coming home.

As the years went by, his name left the headlines but his Edmond church never forgot about him.

Pastor Keith Falk says he’s been the first name on the congregation’s prayer request list from the beginning.

“It was overwhelming joy,” says Falk. “We’ve been weeping and mourning with the Behennas for several years and now we get to rejoice with them.”

But Pastor Falk says the congregation couldn’t officially believe the news until they heard a date that was set in stone.

On Friday, Michael Behenna was officially released from Ft. Leavenworth.

“It was nice that it was official,” says Falk. “To finally know this is it. It is real. This is really happening.”

But integrating back into his Edmond life won’t be easy.

Falk says he’ll need time to get back on his feet.

His mother, Vicki Behenna, has been planning for this day since he was convicted.

“We’re going to have a party!” says Behenna. “That’s the first thing that comes to mind. We’re going to have one hell of a welcome home party for him.”