Edmond family shocked by appeals court ruling

Parents of 1st Lt. Michael Behenna, of Edmond, OK, convicted in 2009 of murdering an Iraqi civilian, thanked supporters and said they will pursue all possible legal avenues to bring justice to their son.
BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD zcampfield@opubco.com Published: July 6, 2012

“Although he may have made some mistakes, he is in prison not for executing someone as was alleged and prosecuted,” Scott Behenna said.

“Remember, the whole trial was about execution; there was nothing about loss of right to self-defense, and the final verdict I think in Michael's mind vindicates him from the fact that people thought he might have executed someone.”

According to defense attorneys, Michael Behenna killed Mansur in May 2008, after the suspected terrorist threw a rock at him and lunged for his gun. Behenna was one of two tasked with releasing the prisoner at a checkpoint near Baiji, in northern Iraq.

Mansur was taken into custody by Behenna's platoon two weeks before, suspected of being the operative behind a roadside bomb that killed two members of the platoon in April 2008.

Scott Behenna, a former investigator with Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, said he is confident his son was acting in self-defense.

“I know this court said Michael did defend himself, however, he had lost that right based on some unauthorized act beforehand — not illegal act, unauthorized,” Behenna said. “So that's scary when your thinking about limiting a loss of right to self-defense. It's hard, but we'll get through it.”

The family said their son and brother was inspired to enlist in the military after the attacks of 9/11.

A 2006 graduate of University of Central Oklahoma, Michael Behenna is a leader and an intellectual, said his brother, Brett. They visit him every other weekend.

“He doesn't belong in prison,” Brett Behenna said. “What happened yesterday was a complete surprise.”

Vicki Behenna said the family may also seek a pardon for Michael, and have asked attorneys to begin drawing up the appropriate paperwork.

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