SAN DIEGO: A local court acquitted decorated Navy SEAL team leader Eddie Gallagher of nearly all charges in the death of an ISIS prisoner in Iraq, including premeditated murder.
But a jury of seven soldiers in his court-martial found him guilty of posing for a photo with the 12-year-old ISIS fighter, an offense carrying a maximum sentence of four months.
Navy prosecutors said that Gallagher took the photo after fatally stabbing the detainee while he was being treated by US medics.
Two witnesses testified for the prosecution that they saw Gallagher fatally stab the victim. One of them, however, altered his story for the first time on the stand and said that although Gallagher stabbed the victim, he caused the victim’s death by suffocating him, not Gallagher.
The jury will decide on his sentence after hearing testimony on his behalf from two doctors, a family friend and a colleague.
Gallagher’s lawyer, Tim Parlatore, said Gallagher is likely to go home Wednesday since he has already spent more than four months in pretrial custody. He called the verdict a “huge weight” off Gallagher’s shoulders and a “victory for justice.”
Gallagher’s wife said the verdict meant her family was “finally vindicated” after being “terrorized” by a government that her husband had fought for.
“He’s fought every major enemy of the United States. He is a righteous and noble individual,” Andrea Gallagher said outside court Tuesday.
“I think this whole thing is disgusting. I want the responsibility to be claimed by Naval Special Warfare.”