EDMOND, Okla. – A state leader is asking President Donald Trump to pardon a former soldier who was convicted of murder while he was deployed in Iraq.
Former 1st Lt. Michael Behenna was convicted of unpremeditated murder back in 2009 for the shooting of an Iraqi man who was in his custody and reportedly had connections to Al Qaeda.
At the time, Behenna was trying to find the people responsible for an IED that claimed the lives of two men in his unit.
Prosecutors say Behenna shot Ali Mansur, who was unarmed, while questioning him, but Behenna has always claimed self-defense.
Behenna served 5 years of a 15-year prison sentence at Fort Leavenworth prison in Kansas before he was granted parole.
Now, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter is asking President Trump to pardon Behenna.
“Michael Behenna was a courageous soldier, a great leader and does not deserve to be labeled a convicted felon for the rest of his life,” Attorney General Hunter said. “He has more than paid for the crimes he was convicted of while bravely serving our country in combat. He and his family have gone through enough. I encourage President Trump to act quickly and compassionately by pardoning Behenna, to give him back the freedoms he deserves.”
Hunter says that several critical errors made during the original court-martial wrongly affected his self-defense arguments.
“Does this situation – with incorrect jury instructions on a key issue and unlawfully withheld evidence – really display the type of justice we believe is appropriate for an otherwise outstanding soldier, who was attempting to protect his country and fellow soldiers from terror attacks?” Hunter asked.
During his first year in office, Trump pardoned controversial former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who had been convicted of misdemeanor criminal contempt.