Army Set To Review Murder Conviction Of Oklahoma Soldier

Monday, November 29th 2010, 6:43 pm
By: News 9

Ed Murray, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The next 10 days will have a huge impact on the life of an Edmond soldier. Two U.S. Army panels are set to review the case of Lt. Michael Behenna. He was convicted of murdering an Iraqi detainee during an interrogation in 2008.

His mother, Vicki Behenna, said she is hopeful, but cautious. She will testify before the Army clemency board on Thursday. The panel reduced Lt. Behenna's 20-year sentence by five years in January. Mrs. Behenna said there could be new members on the board, and she planned to educate them about her son in the hopes that this time around, they will release him from prison.

"It's important for the board to know that Michael is not a criminal, that he's not going to commit another crime and embarrass the army if they let him go," Mrs. Behenna said.

Mrs. Behenna, who is also an assistant U.S. Attorney, said she will focus her testimony before the board about the trauma of those 21 days between the time an improvised explosive device (IED) killed two soldiers under Lt. Behenna's command, to the day he shot and killed a known al-Qaida detainee believed to be connected to the attack.

The Army court convicted Lt. Behenna of murder. He said he acted in self defense and the prosecution withheld an expert witness that could have cleared him of the murder charge.

Mrs. Behenna said her son is encouraged that the board will hear his case again.

"He's doing okay. Michael received letters from all over the country and those letters really encourage him to keep his head up, that they're proud of him, they call him a hero. And so I think that helps to set his frame of mind," Mrs. Behenna said.

The appeal to reverse will be heard December 9. Mrs. Behenna said she hopes at the very least, her son will be granted a new trial and a chance to clear his name.