WASHINGTON — A national group of criminal defense attorneys has joined the effort to gain U.S. Supreme Court review of 1st Lt. Michael Behenna's conviction of unpremeditated murder in a combat zone.
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Supreme Court, saying Behenna's case offers a prime opportunity for the justices to review a decision from the military justice system.
A group of 27 retired generals and admirals, along with a former Defense Department official, have also urged the Supreme Court to take the case. A team of attorneys, including law professors and military justice experts, filed the petition on Behenna's behalf. The U.S. Justice Department has been given until late this month to respond.
Behenna, of Edmond, is serving a 15-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., for killing an Iraqi man while questioning him in 2008. Behenna suspected that the man, Ali Mansur, had a role in planting a roadside bomb that killed two members of his unit.
Behenna, 29, testified at his court martial that he killed Mansur in self-defense after the Iraqi threw a piece of concrete at him and lunged for his gun.