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Incarcerated Edmond soldier's brother appeals for clemency

At a hearing before the U.S. Army Clemency and Parole Board in Arlington, Va., Brett Behenna says no purpose will be served by keeping his brother in jail. Behenna's brother, U.S. Army 1st Lt. Michael Behenna, was convicted of killing a suspected terrorist in 2008 in Iraq.
by Chris Casteel Published: February 8, 2013

The top military appeals court narrowly upheld Behenna's conviction last year. A team of attorneys last month submitted a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court on Behenna's behalf.

Though the U.S. Justice Department initially declined to respond to Behenna's petition, the high court asked for a government response.

Vicki Behenna said the Supreme Court agrees to hear very few cases, but she said she was encouraged the justices wanted a response from the government.

“It's not just Michael's case that's being litigated,” she said. “It's whether soldiers have the right to act in self-defense. We think that's an issue of national importance.”

Brett Behenna said the five-person parole board was interested in what Michael Behenna would do if released and where he would live.

Vicki Behenna said Michael wants to pursue a degree in Spanish language and has expressed interest in becoming a rancher.

Michael Behenna can ask for clemency every year. He received a five-year reduction of his sentence in 2010.

Letter of support

Also attending the hearing on Thursday were two top aides to Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City.

The entire Oklahoma congressional delegation submitted a letter to the board, asking that members take into consideration Behenna's personal development, the unique nature of the case and sentences given in similar cases.

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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