A military jury has found Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher was found not guilty of premediated murder in the death of an ISIS prisoner in Iraq.
In 2017, Gallagher was serving Mosul when he was accused by a small group of junior SEALS he led during a deployment of stabbing a 17-year-old ISIS prisoner of Iraqi forces who was being treated by US medic.
Prosecutors said after killing the ISIS fighter, Gallagher took photographs of himself posing next to his corpse and then intimidated other SEAL not to report him. He was also accusing of shooting noncombatants.
The chief special warfare operator faced seven criminal counts. He was only found guilty on one count related to taking the photo of the ISIS fighter’s corpse, which carries a maximum sentence of four months.
His attorney’s never disputed that Gallagher took the photo. They attributed to his dark humor and said it did not substantiate that he was guild of murder or obstructing justice.
Prosecutors argued the photo was proof he intentionally killed the teen and then attempted to conceal his crime.
The case took a stunning twist when a medic in Gallagher’s deployment, testifying under immunity, said he was one the one who killed the ISIS prisoner, not Gallagher.
“I suffocated him,” Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Corey Scott, a Nayy SEAL medic said. “I held my thumb over his trach tube until he asphyxiated.”
“Did Gallagher kill this ISIS terrorist?” a defense attorney asked.
“No,” Scott answered.
Scott initially testified that he saw Gallagher pull out his knife and stab the prisoner under his collar bone at least once. But his account changed on cross-examination, claiming he caused the prisoner’s death as an act mercy to prevent the boy from getting tortured by Iraq forces.
Gallagher will be sentenced Tuesday. After already serving 201 days in pre-trial confinement, it is likely he will not serve any additional time in jail, sources said.
The jury was comprised of five enlisted Marines and two sailors, including one Navy SEAL.
Former New York Police Department Commissioner Bernie Kerik, who served on Gallagher’s defense team as an adviser, publicly announced the verdict.
The case garnered attention from President Trump. The president called for Gallagher to be moved to less restrictive confinement, prompting reports that the president was considering pardoning the former Navy SEAL.
Democrats immediately responded by calling Gallagher a “war criminal.”