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Mother Of Convicted Oklahoma Army Ranger Speaks Out

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Lieutenant Michael Behenna says he killed the suspect Al-Queda terrorist in self-defense. Lieutenant Michael Behenna says he killed the suspect Al-Queda terrorist in self-defense.
Herbert MacDonnell, the nation's leading expert on blood spatter and crime scene evidence, found evidence that supported Behenna's story. Herbert MacDonnell, the nation's leading expert on blood spatter and crime scene evidence, found evidence that supported Behenna's story.
Vicki Behenna, an attorney who helped prosecute Timothy McVeigh, said she has never seen evidence withheld from the defense like in her son's trial. Vicki Behenna, an attorney who helped prosecute Timothy McVeigh, said she has never seen evidence withheld from the defense like in her son's trial.

By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6

UNDATED -- A U.S. Army Ranger from Oklahoma who was convicted of murder for killing a terrorist suspect in Iraq has been granted a clemency hearing in January, where his family will ask for his 20-year sentence to be reduced.

The case of Lieutenant Michael Behenna is getting a lot of attention because of allegations prosecutors ignored evidence that could've proved he was innocent.

Michael Behenna grew up in Edmond.  His father worked for Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation; his mother is a federal prosecutor who helped put away Timothy McVeigh.

While serving in Iraq, terrorists blew up a convoy, killing these two men in Lieutenant Behenna's platoon.

They learned suspected Al-Queda member Ali Mansur was behind it and picked him up but were later told to release him.

Behenna wanted to question Mansur one final time, so had Mansur strip to shame him and then threatened to kill him, to scare him into talking.

What happened next is the crux of this case.

The Army says Behenna executed Mansur - who was sitting - shooting him first in the head, then the chest.  Behenna, however, says Mansur had lunged at him with his arm out toward the lieutenant's gun, so Behenna fired two quick shots in self defense, the first hitting Mansur's chest, the second, hitting his head as he collapsed.

Behenna was charged with murder and put on trial.

"It was a shock. When you send a child into a combat zone in a war, the last thing you think is he'll be charged with premeditated murder," said Vicki Behenna, Michael's mother.

Army prosecutors hired Herbert MacDonnell, the nation's leading expert on blood spatter and crime scene evidence. MacDonnell told prosecutors the evidence showed Mansur had to be standing up with his arm outstretched when he was shot, which he later learned matched Behenna's story.

The jury never heard from the expert because the Army sent him home instead of having him testify.

MacDonnell was so worried about a miscarriage of justice, he sent prosecutors an email, to make sure they told the defense attorneys the evidence backed up Behenna, as required by law.

However, prosecutors did not tell Behenna's lawyers until after the jury convicted him of non-premeditated murder.

"It felt like a movie, it felt like it wasn't real because I've never seen that happen in any case I've been involved with or any case in my office," Vicki Behenna said.

"I've never seen that kind of information withheld from the defense."

Twenty-five prominent lawyers in Oklahoma, sent a letter to the Army, asking for Behenna to get a new trial since the testimony that might have proven him innocent was never presented.

Congresswoman Mary Fallin has asked the Pentagon to review the case to see if Behenna's trial was fair.

Behenna's family asks people to write their Congressmen, to sign their petition and finally, mail letters of support to Behenna at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, as he prepares to spend his first Thanksgiving behind bars.

Army officials have declined to comment but have said in court they turned over everything required and MacDonell's testimony would have have been insignificant.

Learn More About Michael Behenna.

 

 

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