The President has pardoned a former Army lieutenant who in 2009 was convicted of killing an Iraqi prisoner that was suspected of being an Al Qaeda terrorist.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said there was “broad support” for Michael Behenna, the lieutenant who was accused of the murder. Michael Behenna received support from the military, elected officials, the public, 37 generals and admirals as well as support from the former Pentagon inspector general. Sanders also mentioned that Behenna was a “model prisoner” while he served his sentence.
She concluded with “In light of these facts, Mr. Behenna is entirely deserving of this Grant of Executive Clemency.”
The military court sentenced Behenna to 25 years for unpremeditated murder in a combat zone, but the Army’s highest appellate court mentioned concern as to how the court handled Behenna’s claims of self-defense. The Army Clemency and Parole Board then reduced to sentence to 15 years and paroled him in 2014.
Behenna who was 24 at the time of the killing said he acted in self-defense when the prisoner threw a chunk of concrete at him and reached for his handgun. The prosecutors stated the argument did not stand up because he was already pointing his weapon at him. Behenna was ordered to take the prisoner home but instead took him to a railroad culvert and questioned him about a bombing that killed two members of Behenna’s platoon.
Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter originally requested a pardon for Behenna in 2018 and renewed his request last month. Hunter believed that Behenna’s conviction was unfair because of questionable jury instruction and the fact that prosecutors did not disclose evidence that supported Behenna’s self-defense claims.