Fate of Navy SEAL accused of fatally stabbing ISIS detainee in hands of jury
The case went to the jury after Capt. A.C. Rugh, who is presiding over the trial, gave them instructions on the law.
Navy prosecutors say Gallagher not only killed the young prisoner in Mosul in 2017 but also posed for photos next to his corpse, shot at noncombatants and intimidated other SEALs who might report him.
Commander Jeff Pietrzyk cited a text message with a photo of the dead man that had the caption “got him with my hunting knife.”
“The government’s evidence in this case are Gallagher’s words, photos, and SEALS,” he said.
He acknowledged that the victim was not a sympathetic figure. But he was in the custody of US servicemen and receiving medical aid, Pietrzyk said, and “no longer a lawful target.”
Pietrzyk said ISIS might have done worse to its captives, but “we are not ISIS.”
Gallagher, a special operations chief, faces life in prison if convicted of murder.
The case has caught the eye of President Donald Trump, who has expressed sympathy for Gallagher on Twitter and is reportedly mulling a pardon for the SEAL.
Gallagher’s defense team rested its case Friday after three days of testimony from eight witnesses intended to undercut the prosecution’s case.
Defense attorney Tim Parlatore has portrayed Gallagher as an “old-school, hard-charging warrior” targeted by his younger comrades, who the defense said harbored a “personal animosity” toward him.
Parlatore said witnesses who testified against Gallagher “put mutiny above the truth.”
Parlatore said there were gaping holes in the investigation and the prosecution interviews. “We shouldn’t even be here, this case should have been dismissed.”
Shocking witness testimony came early on in the trial, when a SEAL medic testified that it was he who killed the prisoner, not Gallagher.
Special Operator First Class Corey Scott said that while he’d seen Gallagher stab the prisoner, he was the one who “suffocated” him.
He suggested it was an act of mercy because he was concerned the boy — a prisoner of the Iraqi forces — would be tortured by the Iraqis.
Scott, who testified under immunity, had not admitted to killing the prisoner in previous interviews with investigators and prosecutors.
The final defense witness, Lt. Commander Robert Breisch, described Gallagher as a “hands-on leader.”
He only starting hearing “grumblings” about Gallagher from other SEALs when they returned from deployment, he testified. He chalked it up to “petty, personal issues” and had no evidence or complaints to investigate anything criminal.
Breisch said it was only after Craig Miller’s “petty complaints” that Gallagher allegedly committed theft that Miller blurted out, “Eddie stabbed a prisoner.”
Breisch testified he wasn’t told about the alleged stabbing until roughly eight months after the incident. Other complaints about Gallagher included that he “took too many risks” and made other SEALs in his command “feel uncomfortable,” Breisch testified.