Family Stands Behind Edmond Soldier Convicted Of Murder
OKLAHOMA CITY - The family of Edmond Soldier, Army Lt. Michael Behenna says they're not giving up the fight for his freedom.
The military's highest court upheld Behenna's murder conviction for killing an Iraqi prison detainee.
Justices agreed with Behenna's attorneys that prosecutors should have turned over evidence that Behenna acted in self-defense and instructions given to jurors were erroneous. But in a split decision, 3 to 2, a majority of justices said those errors did not affect the final outcome of the trial.
"It was not the decision we were looking for," said Behenna's mother, Vicki.
Family members had hoped they would be having a press conference to welcome Behenna home. Instead, the military's highest court upheld his 2009 un-premeditated murder in a combat zone conviction.
Behenna is serving a 15-year prison sentence in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas.
"He's disappointed, but his firm stance will help us fight though and continue to lift him up," said Behenna's father, Scott.
Prosecutors say Behenna took an Iraqi detainee to a culvert to question him about a roadside bombing that killed two men under Behenna's command. Then Behenna shot the man execution style.
Behenna maintains he acted in self-defense.
The high court ruled even if that was true, Behenna had no right to self-defense since he was unauthorized when he brought the prisoner to the culvert.
"This case began initially because the government thought Monsour was executed while he was sitting on a rock. I don't believe anybody thinks [that is] the truth. The issue now is that the man was coming toward Michael and whether Michael had the right to defend himself," said Vicki Behenna.
It is an issue the Behenna's say they will ask the court of appeals to reconsider as they were only one vote away from having Michael back home.
"It's easy as a mother and father. You never give up until the last decision is in. We never give up," said Vicki Behenna.
Michael Behenna's attorneys are also seeing if they can file a petition with U.S. Supreme Court. And family members are sending out ‘thanks' to everyone in the community who has supported them thus far.