I bleed Red White and Blue - but sometimes there is irony in our government that I don't understand. This is a bit long, but I didn't know what to cut out to shorten. This family are truley great Americans (google Mcveigh and Behenna to see other public service).
I have followed this case from the beginning and it seems like the recognition should be one of Valor and not Prison.
Subject: FW:Lt Behenna Courtroom Day 7 - And it was Good
This is an email from Lt. Michael Behenna's dad. Michael is in the 101st Airborne and on trial for murder of a terrorist. Mr. Mansur (known Al Qaeda) was suspected of killing some of Lt. Behenna's men with IEDs and snipers. The link to Michael's defense fund is below if you would like to make a donation.
Please keep Michael in your prayers.
...cut from Mr Behenna's email....
Praise God from whom all blessings flow
We have truly witnessed many ebbs and flows over the past week. Michael's defense was presented expertly and the Government's case was wrought with holes and inconsistencies. The physical evidence provided by the only experts testifying (put on by the Defense) was clear and convincing (at least to everyone but the Jury) that Mansur was shot in the culvert while reaching for Michael's weapon. The government did not put on any experts to dispute the defense experts, but simply relied on "eyewitness" testimony. The evidence of Mansur standing is obvious from the evidence, but the government said the "eyewitnesses" were to be more reliable. Michael did take some extraordinary measures to interrogate this known terrorist, but Michael intended to release him with clothes Michael brought to the culvert and point him to a lighted checkpoint within walking distance of Mansur's home. There was nothing sinister about this event, much like Michael had always assured us.
The jury deliberated only 2 hours and found Michael guilty of unpremeditated murder and the next day gave him a 25 year sentence.
And now the Miracle!
While we had a rough time on Friday night after Michael was convicted, there was a miracle brewing that would present itself Saturday morning. The government scene expert sent an email to the government explaining that he was disappointed he did not testify, because he felt he could have explained the "only logical explanation of the shooting". He explained in his email that he demonstrated on Wednesday for the prosecution that the most likely way the shooting occurred was that Mansur was standing and reaching out with his hands. However, because the 2 witnesses that testified for the government said Mansur was sitting on a rock and assassinated, the expert had no facts to support Mansur standing. On Thursday, as Michael was testifying about Mansur throwing a rock at him and then lunging for his weapon, the Governments expert commented to the Prosecution staff that was the exact scenario he explained the day before. And, he felt the evidence showed that Michael was telling the truth by acting in self-defense.
The government did not advise the Defense of this new evidence, and it was only through the email sent on Friday morning by the governments expert (after the verdict) that the defense gained this information. The expert, Dr. Herbert McDonnell of New York said he was bothered by his conscious when he returned to New York Thursday night, and consulted with a New York Supreme Court Justice and another attorney before coming to the conclusion that in the interest of Justice the defense should know his findings. The defense got the email before sentencing, but after the verdict was rendered. The Judge recognized the Government's egregious error (called a Brady violation) in not giving this vital evidence to the defense, but allowed the sentencing to proceed. The Government's expert was put under oath on the telephone and testified in court about everything he told the government on Wednesday about what he thought was the only logical explanation of the events in the culvert (Just as Michael had recounted the events). It was truly an unbelievable moment for the entire family and soldiers who were in the courtroom to support Michael. Vicki and I, having worked in the legal system for so many years were just sick to our stomachs at the way this exculpatory evidence was withheld from Michael's defense.
After sentencing, Michael was NOT put in custody. The attorney's were to brief the Brady violation and return to court on Monday to argue this issue. According to Michael's attorney, this is the worst case of a Brady violation he has witnessed in 34 years as an attorney. We have been disappointed so many times this week when we thought things were going well, we did not get our hopes up for Monday.
On Monday, the Judge ruled that there was exculpatory evidence not turned over to the defense, but would not make a final decision without further attorney's briefs. So, he adjourned until March 20th. The effect of a favorable ruling on the 20th is that Michael will get a new trial, and the charge of unpremeditated murder and making a false statement will not be part of that trial because he was exonerated of them in this trial.
For those of you who don't work in the legal system, this may be confusing. To simplify it, had the Government's expert not come forward when he did, the Government lawyers were not going to advise the defense that their own expert was in agreement with Michael's version of what happened. The Government lawyers consistently through the end of trial said it was IMPOSSIBLE for Mansur to be standing when he was shot. Hopefully on March 20th Justice will be done and Michael exonerated from the conviction that is in place.
Right now, although Michael has a conviction of unpremeditated murder and is to serve 25 years in prison - he will be a free man and going about his daily activities until March 20th. Praise God.
Thank everyone for your undying support, prayers, and uplifting emails. I truly believe God's hand delivered this blessing to us at the last moment and spared Michael from an unbelievable situation. Michael is doing as well as can be expected and looking forward to getting this behind him.
Harvey - the TRUTH came out!
Please pass this email to everyone, as we will have to endure another trial at some point and I want everyone to know how the Army has treated one of their own in a combat situation and in the courtroom.
Scott & Vicki