EDMOND, Okla. – A state leader is asking President Donald Trump to use his power 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 renewing his call for a presidential pardon.
Last year, Hunter asked President Trump to grant Behenna a presidential pardon. However, the Department of Justice ruled that Behenna was ineligible to even apply for a pardon under its regulations, adding that he did not merit a waiver.
Under current advisory regulations, the DOJ prevents all individuals currently incarcerated from applying for a pardon, as well as those who have been released in the last five years and those who are on parole, probation, or supervised release. Behenna will remain on parole until 2024.
“The U.S. Constitution gives the president nearly absolute authority to pardon people from federal crimes,” Attorney General Hunter said. “For DOJ officials to use such strict regulations in determining who can even apply, they are interfering with the president’s prerogative and eliminating the ability for hundreds of thousands of eligible people, like Mr. Behenna, to have their case reviewed. I strongly encourage Attorney General Barr to review and revise the regulations to better align with the president’s authority under the Constitution. Likewise, I implore President Trump to review Mr. Behenna’s case and strongly consider granting him a pardon. He courageously served his country in combat in Iraq and he has more than paid for his mistakes and misjudgments in attempting to root out terrorism.”