Behenna's Fight For Freedom Not Over Following Court Verdict

Wednesday, July 27th 2011, 7:16 pm

By: News 9

Jennifer Pierce, News 9

EDMOND, Oklahoma -- The fight to free an Oklahoma soldier convicted of murdering an Iraqi detainee continues.

The military appeals court upheld Lt. Michael Behenna's conviction and sentencing, but his family is not letting the decision stop them from moving forward.

Behenna's family learned of the decision last Friday, but his mother, Vicki, said she waited to tell his brothers because one was in the middle of taking the state bar exam and she didn't want him to be distracted.

Vicki Behenna said her family members were all shocked and disappointed, "and that's kind of an understatement."

She said she has been fighting for two years to get her son's murder conviction and 15-year sentence overturned.

She said she thought the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals would agree to give Lt. Behenna a new trial because she believes the prosecution withheld evidence that could have exonerated her son.

"There are some things that are unjust and not fair and Michael's trial was absolutely unjust with the jury not being able to hear the government's own expert testify that Michael was defending himself at the time the shots were fired," she said.

Michael says he killed an Iraqi detainee in self-defense.

Vicki Behenna is an attorney and said that even if Michael wasn't her son, she would want justice.

"I think Michael deserves a new trial and anybody in his situation would deserve a new trial."

Even though the court's decision to uphold her son's conviction and sentence is not what the Behennas expected or wanted, "it gives people a feeling that maybe it's not a fair system," she said.

Though the appeals court has spoken, Vicki Behenna said her son's fight is far from over.

"Has he given up? No. We won't either," she said.

She said Michael feels like he has been thrown to the wolves and thinks that somebody in the army is going to understand the circumstances.


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