TIKRIT, Iraq — Coalition military forces have charged two Oklahoma soldiers with premeditated murder in connection with the shooting death of an Iraqi detainee north of Baghdad, according to a military news release. U.S. Army 1st Lt. Michael C. Behenna, 25, of Edmond is charged with pre-meditated murder, assault, making a false official statement and obstruction of justice, according to the release. Staff Sgt. Hal M. Warner, 34, of Braggs faces the same charges, but as an accessory after the fact for premeditated murder. The military added that both men are innocent unless and until proven guilty. Warner’s brother, reached by The Oklahoman at a phone number listed for the soldier in Braggs, declined to comment today. A voicemail left at a phone number listed for Behenna was not immediately returned. The soldiers are both assigned to D Company, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry at Forward Operating Base Summerall, near the Iraqi city of Bayji, the military said. The unit is part of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), based at Fort Campbell near Oak Grove, Ky. The charges stem from the shooting death of Ali Mansur Mohamed, an Iraqi detainee initially believed to be released May 16 from military custody, the military said. Charges were filed against Warner on July 13 and against Behenna on Thursday. The military has not said when Mohamed was killed, but Behenna and Warner are accused of killing the detainee “by means of shooting him with a pistol,” a military spokeswoman told The Associated Press. The spokeswoman said the investigation is ongoing. Next for both soldiers are Article 32 investigations, which are similar to civilian grand jury hearings, military spokesman Capt. Charles G. Calio said in an e-mail. Warner’s is scheduled for Aug. 15 at Contingency Operating Base Speicher, near Tikrit. A date and location for Behenna’s hearing have not been set. The soldiers will be entitled to attend the hearing, be represented by counsel, cross-examine prosecution witnesses and present testimony and evidence in their defense. A commanding general will then decide whether to convene a court-martial, Calio said. If a court-martial is convened, Behenna, an officer, could choose to have his case heard by a military judge alone or by a panel consisting entirely of officers. Warner, an enlisted soldier, has the additional option of including enlisted members on the panel, all of whom would be senior to him and not from his unit. The military does not have standard sentences for any crime, but Behenna and Warner could face life in prison without parole if found guilty, the military said. Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
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