The Edmond Sun

Local News

January 24, 2013

Behenna: Military injustice contributed to son's fate

EDMOND — Military investigative malfeasance was far worse in his son’s case than anything in civilian criminal justice, Scott Behenna told a Defense Department panel this week.

In July, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta asked the Defense Legal Policy Board to review cases involving soldiers killing civilians in combat zones. The panel is headed by former Defense Department General Counsel Judith Miller and retired Army Maj. Gen. Walter B. Huffman. It provides the secretary of defense with independent advice on military issues, and can propose changes to department policies and goals.

Edmond soldier Michael Behenna is serving a 15-year sentence in Fort Leavenworth after being convicted of unpremeditated murder in the killing of an Iraqi national in 2008.

In July, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces ruled the soldier erred by taking the Iraqi, a purported terrorist linked to the deaths of several members of Behenna’s platoon, to a culvert for an unauthorized interrogation. In the process he gave up any right to defend himself no matter what happened, the court ruled.

On Tuesday, Scott and Vicki Behenna, Michael’s parents, testified before the Defense Legal Policy Board.

In his remarks submitted to the panel, Behenna documented his career with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, which included investigating numerous murders, being a firearms instructor for 20 years and teaching judgmental shooting to law enforcement officers. He currently is an intelligence analyst for the FBI.

Behenna said earlier in the military legal process, after hearing the evidence in their son’s case, he and Vicki, a federal prosecutor, were convinced of Michael’s innocence. They were shocked by the conviction, which led them to do some soul-searching regarding their own criminal justice work.

“After careful reflection, we concluded the blatant disregard for thorough investigations by (Army Criminal Investigation Command), and the unfair and conviction-focused approach by the prosecutors we observed in Michael’s trial, were far worse than anything we observed in civilian criminal justice,” Behenna said.

He said investigators owe the community, victims and any potential suspect the best possible effort to secure all evidence from the scene of the crime, as that evidence should be the mainstay of any viable prosecution.

Forensic evidence, Behenna noted, is used to determine not only who was responsible, but what are the likely scenarios in which the actions could have occurred.

In Michael’s case, the prosecution presented no physical evidence to support their claim that Michael executed Ali Mansur while in a seated position, Behenna stated. In fact, Behenna continued, the only available evidence — bullet trajectories, a flattened bullet shot under Mansur’s right arm — would discredit the government’s theory and lead to only one conclusion, that Mansur had to be standing with his arm outstretched, not sitting when the shooting occurred.

The forensic evidence was largely recovered by a platoon first lieutenant with no crime scene training, Behenna stated. Michael’s defense expert testified that there should have been some fine blood spatter on the walls that would have indicated the height of the shots when fired, he stated.

Defense experts testified they believed there was “a very good chance that there was that evidence (blood spatter on a wall), but it was either not found or not documented,” Behenna stated.

“I also feel the bullets that exited the body would have made an impression in the concrete walls of the culvert possibly providing a height of each shot, but none of this evidence was recovered,” Behenna stated.

Vicki Behenna said she wanted the panel to hear about the course of events that led to the incident in the culvert. They included the earlier organized attack on Michael’s platoon in April 2008, the fact that the Iraqi national was identified in court as a terrorist, a lack of military investigative resources and a lack of fairness in the military justice system, she said.

Behenna said other issues that came up included the possibility of command influence in the decision to prosecute Michael and mandatory sentencing for soldiers. She said she hopes as a result of the hearing related policy will be changed.

The Defense Legal Policy Board will submit advice and recommendations along with a copy of its report on the hearing within 210 days. Prior to that date, the document will be submitted in draft form to the Military Department for comment.

The Behennas recently filed on behalf of their son a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court, the last legal venue available to the soldier. It would be the first time his case would be heard outside the military justice system.

On Feb. 7, the Behennas will be back in Washington for Michael’s fourth clemency hearing. Next year, he will be eligible for parole after serving a third of his sentence, which began in March 2009. Vicki Behenna said other soldiers in similar situations are not getting parole.

marks@edmondsun.com | 341-2121, ext. 108

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Sr Open 20.jpeg Oak Tree golfers sputter, but still have life

    Edmond’s Gil Morgan, the highest rank in age of the four Oak Tree players partaking in the U.S. Senior Open at 67, is just 1-over-par going into Friday’s second round at Oak Tree National.
    Bob Tway and Willie Wood ensued with 3-over-par 74s and Scott Verplank shot a 4-over-par 75 Thursday in the opening round.
    “I actually played fairly decent, I guess,” Morgan said after walking off the 18th green Thursday. “I guess I had two, three kind of foul balls but ... I had three, four putts if I could just hit it a little harder I would have made them.”

    July 10, 2014 4 Photos

  • MS_Devereaux.jpg Veteran Guthrie chief prepares for next stage of life

    Retiring Guthrie Police Chief Damon Devereaux had nothing but nice things to say about the citizens and city officials he’s worked for and the men and women he’s worked with.
    The search for his replacement is underway. City administration released a statement.
    “The City of Guthrie appreciates the dedication, loyalty and service that Damon Devereaux has exemplified over his tenure with the City. Join the City of Guthrie in wishing him a farewell and all the best in his future endeavors.”

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • rhoades, jake EFD.jpg City of Edmond disciplines fire chief

    A veteran firefighter who filed a complaint against Edmond’s fire chief said he is preparing to file a grievance because he believes the city manager is unwilling to take appropriate action.
    City Manager Larry Stevens said Fire Chief Jake Rhoades has been formally disciplined concerning the complaints by three firefighters of Rhoades allegedly creating a hostile work environment. Stevens declined to comment on the specifics of the complaints or the disciplinary action.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • Montgomerie shoots ahead in early play

    The practice range at Oak Tree National was a place of bewilderment Thursday morning. A cold front brought an early morning thunderstorm along with a 180-degree shift in the wind to the north.

    July 10, 2014

  • home 4.jpg Wounded warrior says new ‘smart’ home will change his life

    Retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Rusty Dunagan is a dedicated American soldier who always knew he would join the military, but after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, his conviction grew stronger.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo 1 Slideshow

  • Inhofe Heart Surgery _Hass.jpg Military restores equipment program for fire departments

    The Department of Defense will continue the popular program, which provides rolling stock, engines and other equipment to fire departments in 48 states.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fox Lake Trail construction about to begin, city says

    Progress continues for the Fox Lake Trail, the Spring Creek Trail and the Arcadia Lake Trail, said Craig Dishman, director of Edmond Parks and Recreation.

    July 10, 2014

  • New Oak Tree addition plat gains approval

    The Edmond Planning Commission approved the preliminary plat of an Oak Tree addition, block 123, located on the east side of Santa Fe, and one-half mile south of Waterloo Road.
    The vote was 3-1 with Commission Chairman Barry Moore voting against the project. Moore said he does not believe it would be possible to build a new home on the lot.

    July 10, 2014

  • spts-Colin Montgomerie.jpg Montgomerie no overnight success

    It’s pretty much a consensus of opinion that Bernhard Langer is the  favorite to capture the 35th U.S. Senior Open Championship at Oak Tree this week. But in the same breath, Colin Montgomerie of Great Britain is considered a solid contender to lift the championship trophy on Sunday.
    “Who me?” asked Montgomerie. “You do know that it took me 22 years to finally win a 72-hole stroke play event in the states,” he said, referring to his four-stroke victory in the Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores. Montgomerie shot a 6-under-par 65 in the final round.

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fan Spectator trends emerge at Senior Open

    A few spectators trends developed during a random sampling Wednesday at the U.S. Senior Open — many were Oklahoma residents, many youngsters came with parents and fans of all ages were getting autographs from approachable pros.

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
NDN Video
Tiny Hamsters Who Ate Burritos are Back for a Tiny Hedgehog's Party Watch Kelly Ripa Get Soaked! 'Referee' Hands Out Yellow Cards for Social Faux Pas in NYC 2014 Emmy Nominees: 8 Snub Shockers Emma Watson Is Va-Va-Voom in Valentino 7 Infamous Sports Blowouts Argentina tops Holland in World Cup semifinals News flush: Japanese toilet exhibition making a splash Emmy Nominations: What to Watch For 'Game of Thrones' Leads 66th Emmy Awards Nominations Photographic 'Proof' That LeBron Is Leaving Miami - @TheBuzzeronFOX Elephant Pool Party at The Oregon Zoo Must-See! Berry and Fallon Form Human Hamster Wheel Pilot buys pizzas for travelers delayed by storm Klose nets record, Germany rout Brazil 7-1 'Purrmanently Sad Cat' Looks Adorably Sad All the Time Pharrell 'humbled' by success of mega-hit 'Happy' Day After: Brazil Reeling in WC Loss Jennifer Lawrence Facepalms Emma Watson Athletes Bare All for ESPN Magazine's Body Issue
Poll

U.S. Senate candidates Randy Brogdon, U.S. Rep. James Lankford and state Rep. T.W. Shannon recently discussed their views about the Federal Reserve and its monetary policies at a forum. All three called for an audit of the banking institution. Do you agree?

Yes, there should be an audit of the Federal Reserve
No, an audit is not necessary
Undecided
     View Results