US soldier gets 35 years in deaths of 4 Iraqis

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US soldier gets 35 years in deaths of 4 Iraqis

Postby Freakzilla » 30 Mar 2009 14:50

Just for those of you who think it's standard operating procedure for US soldiers to kill civilians:

By GEORGE FREY, Associated Press Writer George Frey, Associated Press Writer – 1 hr 36 mins ago

VILSECK, Germany – A U.S. soldier convicted of murder in the execution-style slayings of four blindfolded Iraqis apologized for shooting one of them in the back of the head, but said he acted out of concern for his fellow troops.

"Nothing is harder than losing a soldier," Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Mayo said in closing arguments after he was found guilty of murder. "Or calling a mother or a wife and telling them that you tried, but wondering if you did enough. I apologize to the military for what I've done. I apologize to the soldiers; I never wanted them to have to go through this."

Mayo told the court — just lawyers and a judge, with no jury — that he shot one of the Iraqis with a 9mm pistol. A judge-only decision is possible in military courts.

Mayo of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, pleaded guilty to premeditated murder and conspiracy to commit premeditated murder in the proceeding at the U.S. Army's Rose Barracks in southeast Germany.

He pleaded not guilty to obstruction of justice in the incident, which happened while he was deployed in Baghdad. Military prosecutors later dropped that charge.

The 27-year-old was sentenced to 35 years in prison with the possibility of parole and will be incarcerated at the military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He will be dishonorably discharged, have his rank reduced to private and forfeit his pay, though not immediately.

His lawyer, Michael Waddington, said Mayo would testify against another soldier involved in the incident and could be eligible for parole in about 10 years. Mayo has been in the Army for nearly a decade.

Col. Jeffrey Nance, the judge overseeing the proceedings, told Mayo that he "entered into an agreement to commit premeditated murder" that saw the four Iraqi men shot in the head by the side of a canal in Baghdad between March and April 2007.

According to testimony Monday and at previous courts-martial, at least four Iraqis were taken into custody in spring 2007 after an exchange of small arms fire with Mayo's unit.

The Iraqis were taken to the unit's base for questioning and processing, although there was not enough evidence to hold them for attacking the unit. Later that night patrol members took the Iraqis to a remote area and shot them so that they would not be able to attack U.S. forces again, Mayo testified.

He said the unit's first Sergeant, John Hatley, 40, instigated the plan and that Mayo and another senior member of the unit, Sgt. Michael Leahy, volunteered to help kill the detainees.

Earlier this year, Leahy, 28, of Lockport, Ill., was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after he admitted to the killing of one of the detainees and shooting another. He was acquitted of murder over a separate incident in Baghdad in January 2007.

Nance asked Mayo if it was his intent to kill the prisoners, and if he was frustrated by the thought that, if detained in the usual way, the prisoners would soon be back on the street to shoot at U.S. soldiers.

"Yes sir," Mayo replied.

"If we took (the) individuals to detention they'd be released in a matter of days," he told the court. "(Hatley) said we should take care of them. I agreed."

"I believe I was acting in self-defense," Mayo said. "I just wanted to take care of my soldiers."

But he admitted that neither he nor his men were in any immediate danger, as the detainees were blindfolded with their hands bound.

Hatley, who is also accused of pulling the trigger, will be court-martialed on charges of premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit premeditated murder and obstruction of justice on April 13. He also faces murder charges from the separate incident in Baghdad in January 2007. The Army has not released a hometown for Hatley.

Waddington said that under a deal reached with prosecutors, Mayo will testify at Hatley's court-martial.

Two soldiers — Spc. Steven Ribordy, 26, of Salina, Kansas, and Spc. Belmor Ramos, 24, of Clearfield, Utah — pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit premeditated murder and were sentenced to prison for their role in the incident last year.

Staff Sgt. Jess Cunningham, 29, of Bakersfield, California, and Sgt. Charles Quigley, 28, of Providence, Rhode Island, had charges of conspiracy to commit premeditated murder dropped this year.

All were with the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division. The unit is now part of the Germany-based 172nd Infantry Brigade.

___

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Postby Eyes High » 30 Mar 2009 15:01

So sad in so many ways. :(
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Postby Freakzilla » 30 Mar 2009 15:06

Eyes High wrote:So sad in so many ways. :(


It is, but my main reason for posting this was to show that this isn't tollerated in the US Army, if they find out about it.

I know there's probably many more cases that they don't find out about, but it's not for lack of trying.
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Postby Eyes High » 30 Mar 2009 15:12

Freakzilla wrote:
Eyes High wrote:So sad in so many ways. :(


It is, but my main reason for posting this was to show that this isn't tollerated in the US Army, if they find out about it.

I know there's probably many more cases that they don't find out about, but it's not for lack of trying.


Yeah, I remember the discussion from the other thread where someone made a comment to that effect. Still it saddens me when our soldiers go to that extreme and over step their boundries.

Not only do they smear the image of the American soldier but they ruin their lives and let us not for get the families.
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Postby Omphalos » 30 Mar 2009 15:49

Four separate murders at different times and this piece of shit is still breathing air. Too bad he was needed as a witness against the other guy. They should have been hung, the both of them.

I'm personally disgusted that this guy could ever be paroled, much less in ten short years.

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Postby Freakzilla » 30 Mar 2009 16:04

Omphalos wrote:Four separate murders at different times and this piece of shit is still breathing air. Too bad he was needed as a witness against the other guy. They should have been hung, the both of them.

I'm personally disgusted that this guy could ever be paroled, much less in ten short years.


I wouldn't be suprised if he never makes it out of Levenworth.
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Postby orald » 30 Mar 2009 17:16

If they were terrorists though...you know.
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Postby GamePlayer » 30 Mar 2009 22:12

I remember reading an excerpt from a book called "On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society" By Dave Grossman. He talked about the nature of the military as an institution and that an unfortunate side effect of any military is the inevitable recruitment of a certain minority of psychopaths. Always wanted to read the rest of that book, but Grossman's position in the media war against video game violence always rubbed me the wrong way.

But then again, I don't know the situation in this story of the convicted soldiers. That's why war is hell. It's easy for us safe and pampered individuals to sit here on our message board dealing out crime and punishment. It's quite another to be in the place of a front line soldier, where life and death stare at you in the face everyday. I'm not saying soldiers should have free license to kill indiscriminately. I just hope that in this case, the soldiers judged guilty were convicted because the right circumstances warranted their punishment.
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