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Mercy, justice overdue in Michael Behenna case

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: February 6, 2013

Scott Behenna has compiled a listing of cases that underscore the disparity between his son's sentence and those of other soldiers and Marines convicted of unpremeditated murder. An example is an Army platoon leader who, after searching a residence in Iraq, shot and killed a teenager in front of the boy's father in 2004. The boy's hands had been zip-tied behind his back. The soldier later gave at least three false statements about what happened; there was no evidence of self-defense, nor an aggressive move by the boy.

That soldier was sentenced to seven years.

We're reminded of a different case. During the Vietnam War, Army Lt. William Calley was prosecuted for what came to be known as the My Lai Massacre. Hundreds of men, women and children were killed by U.S. troops. He was convicted of the premeditated murder of 22 civilians and given a life sentence. That was quickly reduced to 20 years, and the secretary of the Army eventually cut it to 10. Calley wound up serving just 3 ½ years of house arrest.

Behenna has now spent the past four years of his life in the brig. If the point of his sentence was to send Behenna a message, we'd suggest it's been received. It's time that mercy and justice enter the equation.