Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher not guilty of murder in ISIS detainee's death

A jury found Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher not guilty of pre-meditated murder of an ISIS detainee in 2017. CNN's Nick Watt reports.

Posted: Jul 2, 2019 8:12 PM
Updated: Jul 3, 2019 1:45 AM


Decorated Navy SEAL team leader Eddie Gallagher was acquitted 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. The verdict marked the culmination of a military trial in which fellow SEALs offered contrasting accounts of Gallagher's behavior in 2017 in Mosul, Iraq.

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 return Wednesday to deliberate 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 responsibility to be claimed by Naval Special Warfare.'

The defense case

Gallagher's defense never disputed that Gallagher took the photo and texted it to someone with the caption 'good story behind this, got him with my hunting knife.'

The defense said neither the photo nor any other forensic evidence proved that Gallagher killed the detainee or tried obstruct the investigation.

The defense portrayed Gallagher as an 'old-school, hard-charging warrior' who was targeted by younger 'millennial' SEALs who harbored 'personal animosity' toward him.

Several SEALs testified under immunity that they took pictures with the body with Gallagher. One of them described it as a 'trophy photo' to celebrate the success of the mission.

A few weeks after they returned to the United States, one witness testified that Gallagher pulled him aside and told him, 'I know you guys are talking about what happened. If you stop talking about it, then I'll stop talking about it.'

Gallagher was acquitted of obstruction of justice charges based on allegations that he tried to pressure other SEALs not to report him. The jury also found him not guilty of attempted murder stemming from accusations that he shot at noncombatants in unrelated incidents.

What prosecutors argued

Prosecutors said the photo, along with Gallagher's own words and actions, proved that he intentionally killed the teen and then tried to conceal what happened.

In the prosecution closing argument, Commander Jeff Pietrzyk acknowledged that the victim was not a sympathetic figure.

But he was in the care of US servicemen and 'no longer a lawful target,' Pietrzyk said.

ISIS might have done worse to its captives, Pietrzyk said, but 'we are not ISIS.'

A key witness changes his account

The case took an unexpected turn when a key prosecution witness testified that he caused the prisoner's death, not Gallagher.

Special Operator First Class Corey Scott, a SEAL medic, said that he saw Gallagher pull out his knife and stab the prisoner under his collar bone at least once.

On cross-examination, Scott told the defense that he never saw any blood after the stabbing. That's when Scott claimed he caused the prisoner's death by holding his thumb over his trachea tube until he suffocated.

Scott described the killing as an act of mercy because he was concerned the boy -- a prisoner of the Iraqi forces -- would be tortured by the Iraqis.

Scott did not admit to killing the prisoner in previous interviews with investigators and prosecutors. He testified that he was only doing so now because he was granted immunity, which means he cannot be prosecuted for his testimony.

The prosecution called him a liar. He might now face a perjury charge.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 306538

Reported Deaths: 5435
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion41953849
Lake26872453
Allen17621295
Elkhart16905219
St. Joseph16524223
Hamilton12696167
Vanderburgh9552115
Tippecanoe844927
Porter813785
Johnson6231165
Vigo597979
Hendricks5944156
Monroe530349
Clark504077
Madison4858121
Delaware4820103
LaPorte457194
Kosciusko455739
Howard334975
Warrick319572
Floyd311477
Bartholomew308462
Wayne301367
Cass295831
Marshall293744
Grant262949
Noble249846
Hancock246551
Boone240254
Henry240237
Dubois234631
Dearborn215730
Jackson212633
Morgan204443
Gibson181725
Knox181419
Shelby178254
Clinton177821
Lawrence174047
DeKalb172829
Adams166422
Wabash158020
Miami157814
Daviess154643
Fayette147733
Steuben143513
Jasper142111
Harrison141824
LaGrange140129
Montgomery139027
Whitley133412
Ripley128114
Decatur124643
Huntington123510
Putnam123027
Randolph120719
Wells120428
White120321
Clay119822
Posey119616
Jefferson116216
Scott103219
Greene101353
Jay96413
Starke90621
Sullivan88916
Fulton83518
Jennings83214
Spencer8198
Perry81521
Fountain7738
Washington7417
Franklin68626
Carroll67913
Orange66628
Vermillion5993
Owen5987
Parke5606
Newton55312
Tipton55226
Rush5317
Blackford51912
Pike50318
Pulaski37710
Martin3515
Benton3362
Brown3353
Crawford2881
Union2671
Switzerland2555
Warren2382
Ohio2307
Unassigned0266

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 371840

Reported Deaths: 6100
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin50231667
Cuyahoga36047741
Hamilton29931372
Montgomery20065228
Butler14769146
Lucas14317414
Summit13388316
Stark8792197
Warren819175
Mahoning7276299
Lake682666
Lorain643499
Clermont577248
Delaware556436
Licking549276
Fairfield538464
Trumbull5305147
Greene522364
Clark511464
Allen465485
Marion465251
Wood4491107
Medina447756
Miami425867
Pickaway399348
Columbiana347297
Portage344872
Tuscarawas328658
Wayne318793
Richland316638
Mercer289945
Hancock241337
Ross240759
Muskingum240210
Auglaize231031
Putnam224749
Erie224266
Darke223559
Ashtabula223253
Geauga203351
Scioto195915
Union19118
Shelby190615
Lawrence189438
Athens18864
Seneca180018
Belmont164929
Madison158918
Sandusky154229
Preble152621
Huron152318
Defiance139522
Holmes139139
Logan127816
Knox126318
Fulton124525
Washington121927
Crawford121516
Ottawa121130
Clinton106714
Williams10579
Ashland105222
Highland101317
Jefferson10124
Henry100023
Brown9925
Champaign9475
Jackson93112
Hardin91019
Fayette90317
Van Wert8976
Morrow8882
Guernsey83914
Coshocton82613
Perry78712
Adams78313
Pike7451
Gallia73513
Wyandot71216
Paulding64611
Hocking62616
Noble60223
Carroll45710
Meigs39012
Monroe31821
Morgan2575
Vinton2195
Harrison2023
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Broken Clouds
54° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 54°
Angola
52° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 52°
Huntington
Overcast
52° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 52°
Decatur
Overcast
54° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 54°
Van Wert
Overcast
54° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 54°
Cloudy Thanksgiving
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events