Edmond Soldier Convicted of Killing Detainee Receives Reduced Sentence
By Colleen Chen, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Army's Clemency and Parole Board has reduced the sentence of an Edmond soldier convicted of murdering an Iraqi detainee. Meanwhile, First Lt. Michael Behenna's family continues to fight for his freedom. They say he acted in self defense when he killed Ali Mansur while serving in Iraq in 2008.
Behenna's mom, Vicki Behenna, spoke on her son's behalf earlier this month at a clemency hearing in Washington D.C.
Originally sentenced to 25 years in prison, Behenna's sentence was later reduced to 20 years. Thursday, the Army's Clemency and Parole Board decided to reduce the sentence by another five years. The latest reduction brings Behenna's sentence down to 15 years.
"Your immediate reaction is thank God, thank God someone is listening. Then you ask why didn't they just send him home? He shouldn't be there anyway," Vicki Behenna said.
The Behenna family had originally asked for Michael's sentence to be suspended pending his appeal. Vicki Behenna, who is also a federal prosecutor, said she expects a new trial could happen before the year is over.
"Mansur is a member of Al Quaida. Mansur is the man responsible for the attack on Michael's platoon. During the interrogation Mansure forced Michael to act in self defense," Vicki Behenna said.
In May 2009 Vicki Behenna said prosecutors withheld key evidence in the trial and asked the state's congressional delegation to investigate her son's case. The Behennas filed an appeal in December 2009.
"I know this will be fixed. I know Michael will be exonerated, and I know he'll come home. I just have to be patient," Vicki Behenna said.
First Lt. Michael Behenna is currently serving his sentence at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Michael will have to serve five years before becoming eligible for parole.