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Family members seek parole for 1st Lt. Michael Behenna

1st Lt. Michael Behenna's parents and brother present Army board with a lengthy report and say the imprisoned soldier wants to restart his life as a cattle rancher. Behenna, 30, has served five years of a 15-year sentence for unpremeditated murder in a combat zone.
by Chris Casteel Modified: January 10, 2014 at 11:00 am •  Published: January 9, 2014

The parents and brother of 1st Lt. Michael Behenna told an Army board on Thursday that the Edmond native would work on a cattle ranch and enroll in Oklahoma State University courses if released on parole this year.

The family members spoke before the Army Clemency and Parole Board at the first parole hearing for Behenna, 30, who has served five years of a 15-year sentence for unpremeditated murder in a combat zone.

The Behennas presented the board with a report more than 400 pages long, including support letters from Gov. Mary Fallin, the Oklahoma congressional delegation, state law enforcement leaders, active duty military and veterans.

Behenna already has assurances of employment at a cattle ranch and has been accepted into OSU's cow/calf camps, his mother, Vicki Behenna, said after the hearing. Behenna wants ultimately to get a degree from OSU in ranch operations.

The chairman of the parole board told the family to expect a decision “quickly.” Scott Behenna, the soldier's father, said they may know within two weeks whether parole has been granted.

Conviction in killing

Behenna was convicted in 2009 of killing an Iraqi man linked to terrorist activities, including a roadside bombing that killed two of Behenna's men.

Army prosecutors contended Behenna executed Ali Mansur after taking him to an isolated area for questioning and stripping him naked. Behenna claimed at his court-martial that he shot Mansur in self-defense after the man threw a piece of concrete at him and lunged for his gun.

Two military appeals courts upheld Behenna's conviction of unpremeditated murder in a combat zone, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined last year to review the case.

nDepth: A Mother's Promise

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by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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