President Trump Pardons Former Army Lieutenant

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Posted: May 07, 2019 7:00 AM
President Trump Pardons Former Army Lieutenant

Source: AP Photo/Vanessa Gera

After backing from a number of military leaders and local officials, President Trump issued a pardon to former Army First Lieutenant Michael Behenna Monday evening. Behenna is from Oklahoma and was convicted of killing a man he believed to be an Al Qaeda terrorist while deployed in Iraq. 

Some background from Stars and Stripes

Behenna acknowledged during his trial that instead of taking the prisoner home as he was ordered, he took the man to a railroad culvert, stripped him, and then questioned him at gunpoint about a roadside bombing that had killed two members of Behenna's platoon.

Behenna, a native of the Oklahoma City suburb of Edmond, said the man moved toward him and he shot him because Behenna thought he would try to take his gun.

"In 2009, a military court sentenced Mr. Behenna to 25 years in prison for unpremeditated murder in a combat zone.  After judgment, however, the U.S. Army’s highest appellate court noted concern about how the trial court had handled Mr. Behenna’s claim of self-defense," the White House released in a statement. "Additionally, the Army Clemency and Parole Board reduced his sentence to 15 years and paroled him as soon as he was eligible in 2014—just 5 years into his sentence.  Upon his release, dozens of Patriot Guard motorcycle riders met Mr. Behenna to escort him back to his home in Oklahoma."

"Mr. Behenna’s case has attracted broad support from the military, Oklahoma elected officials, and the public. Thirty-seven generals and admirals, along with a former Inspector General of the Department of Defense, signed a brief in support of Mr. Behenna’s self-defense claim," the statement continues. "Numerous members of the Oklahoma congressional delegation, Oklahoma’s then-Governor Mary Fallin, and current Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter have also expressed support for Mr. Behenna.  Further, while serving his sentence, Mr. Behenna was a model prisoner.  In light of these facts, Mr. Behenna is entirely deserving of this Grant of Executive Clemency."

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter is applauding the pardon, in addition to some who know Behenna.