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Behennas urge Army parole board to suspend the rest of Edmond soldier's sentence in killing of Iraqi

Parole board session the first of two important hearings for Michael Behenna this month.
BY CHRIS CASTEEL Modified: December 3, 2010 at 4:55 am •  Published: December 3, 2010

— The parents of 1st Lt. Michael Behenna urged the U.S. Army parole board on Thursday to suspend the rest of his 15-year prison sentence and release him.

Scott and Vicki Behenna, of Edmond, made their second appearance of the year before the Army Clemency and Parole Board arguing that he posed no threat and that he was suffering from extreme stress when he shot an Iraqi man suspected of being a member of al-Qaida.

Shannon Wahl, Behenna's girlfriend, also spoke at the hearing, which was closed to the public.

“He's not a danger,” Wahl, of Los Angeles, said afterward.

“He could be a productive leader in society.”

Behenna, 27, was convicted in 2009 by a general court-martial of unpremeditated murder in a combat zone and is serving his sentence in a military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

The hearing Thursday was the first of two important events this month in Behenna's case, which has attracted national attention. On Thursday, the Army Court of Criminal Appeals is scheduled to hear arguments about whether Behenna received a fair trial; those arguments will also take place in Arlington.

After a parole board hearing in January, the Army official who oversees review boards ordered a sentence reduction of five years. Before that, Behenna's original sentence of 25 years already had been reduced to 20 years by a judge.

Vicki Behenna said she and her husband Thursday gave an overview of her son's case, since some members of the five-person parole board weren't on it during their last appearance.

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