The Edmond Sun

Local News

July 6, 2012

UPDATE: Vicki Behenna says fight not over to free son

EDMOND — The mother of an Edmond soldier convicted of killing an unarmed Iraqi may appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court after a setback from a military appeals court Thursday.

In a 3-2 opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, the military’s highest court, upheld 1st Lt. Michael Behenna’s 2009 conviction for unpremeditated murder in a combat zone. Behenna is serving a 15-year sentence in the Fort Leavenworth, Kan., military prison for the 2008 shooting.

“To say we’re a little knocked back is a little understatement right now,” said Behenna’s mother Vicki, who lives in Edmond. “I really thought — we all felt this was going to be the court that would reverse the conviction.”

Vicki Behenna said they are considering all options, including the chances that the nation’s highest court, the Supreme Court, would take the case, and an appeal for a pardon from President Barack Obama.

“We’re trying to figure out what’s the best avenue right now,” she said.

According to the prosecution, Behenna shot and killed Ali Mansur Mohammed, an Iraqi national, when he stopped en route to returning Mohammed to Albu Toma, in Iraq, to question him further about an April 2008 explosion that killed two in Behenna’s platoon.

Behenna claimed he shot Mohammed in self-defense after the Iraqi tried to take his gun, which was pointed at him.

In Behenna’s defense, his lead attorney Jack Zimmermann claimed the ruling should be overturned because the defense was not notified that a crime scene expert gave testimony to the military that corroborated the soldier’s claim of self-defense.

In the majority opinion written by Judge Scott Stucky, the favorable expert opinion would not have changed the outcome.

Stucky wrote, “it was immaterial in regard to findings and sentencing because the evidence substantially overlapped with other evidence presented by other defense experts.”

Zimmermann also claimed the judge in the previous military trial gave erroneous instructions that limited the right to self-defense, which Zimmermann argued would restrict Behenna’s right to a fair trial.

Stucky also wrote the erroneous instruction was “harmless beyond a reasonable doubt,” but did admit the judge gave faulty instructions.

Vicki Behenna said she spoke with her son Thursday night after the opinion was released.

“That was a really difficult conversation we had with him,” she said. “I think he was expecting a different outcome.”

She said, however, that her son is remaining positive and that they appreciate the encouraging messages and emails. She said one person told her these court battles aren’t just for Michael, but all soldiers.

“I think we’re fighting a just cause,” Vicki said. “It’s my son. We’re not going to give up on him.”

Behenna, now 29, had his appeal heard on April 23 in Washington, D.C. The hearing lasted about 45 minutes and allowed the defense and prosecution 20 minutes to present its arguments and allow questions by the five civilian judges.

An advocacy site, www.defendmichael.com,  was set up in response to the Behennas’ ongoing case. About 30,000 people have signed the online petition.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Oak Tree Official offers glowing update on Senior Open

    An official who has been in charge of tournaments since 2001 said the 2014 U.S. Senior Open is probably the best city event partnership he has seen.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Edmond soldier settles in housing benefits case

    U.S. Attorney Sanford C. Coats said Thursday a U.S. Army reserve soldier from Edmond has agreed to pay the government $20,000 to settle civil claims related to obtaining fraudulent housing benefits.

    April 17, 2014

  • Stevenson 1 Oklahoman returns home focused on pro-gay agenda

    Troy Stevenson remembers the day when football players discovered him and his boyfriend holding hands behind an Edmond high school. After they had been chased off school property, Stevenson, called to check on his boyfriend.
    “He was in hysterics,” Stevenson said. “… Like me, I thought he was scared. Did people see us? What would people think?”

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • Lawn Experts’ tips can help your lawn bounce back

    Chances are your lawn is looking a bit bedraggled after this rough winter.
    That’s not surprising. Between brutally cold temperatures and drying winds, turf took a beating this year.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gracelawn grows larger

    The Edmond City Council voted 5-0 in favor of the city purchasing 20.5 acres of land immediately to the north of Gracelawn Cemetery. Purchasing the property is needed for future expansion of the cemetery, Mayor Charles Lamb, said.
    Gracelawn Cemetery is owned and operated by the city and is located on the northwest corner of Danforth and Boulevard.

    April 17, 2014

  • Warmth needed to grow tomatoes

    The time for those growing tomatoes in their garden is when the soil temperature is above 60°F and fear of frost has past. We are generally safe from frosts after April 5.  However, frosts have occurred as late as May 1 in the Oklahoma City area. If you planted your tomatoes on or before April 5 last year you would have covered them several times as there were several late frosts. If you plant early, be ready to cover your plants during nighttime frosts.

    April 17, 2014

  • Debate Senate hopefuls meet in first debate

     Accountability to the American people and the $17.5 trillion debt continues to be a major issue in the race for U.S. Senate office being vacated by retiring U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn.
    The Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee hosted a debate Wednesday for three of the seven Republicans running for the U.S. Senate seat that is being vacated by retiring U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Oklahoma City FC invites fans to design club scarf

    Oklahoma’s top-tier soccer club, Oklahoma City FC, invites soccer fanatics across Oklahoma to be a part of its future by designing its scarf.
    Scarves are a tradition among soccer clubs and are typically a team’s most recognizable accessory. Scarves are a matter of pride for hard-core supporters and feature team colors, logo and inspiring slogans. Scarves are a part of a team’s identity.

    April 16, 2014

  • MS_injection well.jpg Agency clarifies earthquake-related misinformation

    A state agency says misinformation related to the debate about the cause of more earthquakes across Central Oklahoma includes oil well types, well numbers and injection pressure.
    The Prague sequence of 2011 along the Wilzetta Fault zone included a significant foreshock, a main shock of magnitude 5.7 and numerous aftershocks. It has been suggested that this sequence represents tremors triggered by fluid injection.
    More recently, earthquakes have been recorded in the vicinity of Jones, Arcadia Lake, Edmond, Guthrie, Langston and Crescent. Regulators and scientists are working together to better understand what’s causing all the shaking.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sheriff seeks items for agency history project

    If you have historic pictures or artifacts related to the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office, the agency is asking the public to share them.
    “The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office is working on a history project. If you, your family, friends or acquaintances have any old photos or artifacts related to the OCSO we would love to have them or a digital copy,” said Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel.

    April 16, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Video
Man Accuses 'X-Men' Director Bryan Singer of Sexually Abusing Him As a Teenager Lea Michele & Naya Rivera Feuding? Don't Be A Tattletale: Bad Bullying Tips For Students Jabari Parker declares for the NBA draft Singing Nun Belts Out Cyndi Lauper Swim Daily, Throwback Thursday The trillest thoughts on marijuana "RHOA" Star Charged With Battery Grizzly Bears Get Snowy Birthday Party Weatherman draws forecast when another technical glitch strikes WGN Elizabeth Olsen's Sexy Shoot Bay Area Teen Gets Prom Date With Help From 'Breaking Bad' Star Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Behind The Tanlines Jersey Strong Part 1 WATCH: Women Fight To Marry Prince Harry! Jenny McCarthy Engaged to "New Kid" Kate and Will Land in Oz O’Reilly Launches Preemptive Strike Against CBS Pixar Unveils Easter Eggs From its Biggest Movies Baby Sloths Squeak for Their Cuddle Partners in Adorable Video
Poll

Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

Agree
Disagree
Undecided
     View Results