Family defends accused soldier

Wednesday, August 6th 2008, 8:20 pm
By: News 9

By Emory Bryan, for NEWS 9

TULSA, Okla. -- The family of an Oklahoma soldier accused of murder believes he's innocent.

Staff Sergeant Hal M. Warner, from Braggs, was accused of killing an Iraqi detainee. A soldier from Edmond is also charged in the case.

The Warner family said they have a lot of questions about what's happening with their son, but one thing they know is that's he's innocent.

Hal and Gail Warner are proud parents of two sons in the Army and they don't believe their son killed anyone without good reason.

"I think soldiering is going by the wayside and bureaucratting is becoming predominant and that's a shame," said father Hal Warner.

Staff Sergeant Hal M. Warner is accused of killing an Iraqi detainee. If the charges stick, he could be court-martialed.

"And, I don't think it's fair for them to try these boys in Iraq. They're so far from home. They have no support," said Gail Warner.

Father, Hal Warner, is retired Army and his other son, Ryan, is a Sergeant First Class stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

"You know, he's a soldier. He enjoys being a squad leader for the infantry, but this is not him, he would never do anything like this," said Ryan Warner.

Ryan Warner said the detainee was believed to be planting explosives, but he doesn't know the details of what happened or how the man was killed.

The Warner family hired a civilian attorney to help with the case and is trying to stay in touch with their son in Iraq.

"I try to keep up with him, send him an email every day, try to keep his spirits up and he always says he's doing OK, and I think that's to protect me," said Gail Warner.

For now, the family believes there's not much more they can do, other than wait and hope the truth comes out that they believe will clear all this up.

"I think it is a mix-up, I think some people are jumping to conclusions, why, only they know that, but I do think it's a mix-up," said Ryan Warner.

Staff Sergeant Warner is facing an Article 32 hearing August 15. In the hearing, the charges could be dismissed or the case sent forward. If it goes to a court martial, that will happen within 120 days, according to Warner's brother.