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Edmond soldier guilty of murder in Iraqi detainee killing

By KRISTIN M. HALL /Associated Press Modified: February 27, 2009 at 9:18 pm •  Published: February 27, 2009
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (AP) — An Army officer who shot and killed an Iraqi detainee during an interrogation was convicted of murder Friday night by a military jury.

First Lt. Michael Behenna of Edmond, Okla., avoided conviction on the more serious charge of premeditated murder in the death of the detainee he took aside for questioning last May. A military panel of seven officers at Fort Campbell also found him guilty of assault but acquitted him of making a false statement.

Behenna has testified that he was trying to defend himself when he shot Ali Mansour Mohammed and that the detainee reached for his gun in a secluded railroad culvert near Beiji, Iraq. Behenna said he hadn't intended to kill him.

But Capt. Jason Elbert, a military prosecutor, said the detainee was defenseless against Behenna, and the officer's threats and other actions showed he had planned to kill the man.

"He controlled the whole situation as an officer of the U.S. Army, armed and protected and under no threat," Elbert said.

Defense attorney Jack Zimmerman countered that Behenna was trying to interrogate the detainee, which is why he brought along an Iraqi translator.

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