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Trial Witness: Navy SEAL Chief Didn't Kill Captive—I Did

Prosecutors don't buy argument from medic
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 21, 2019 6:42 AM CDT
Navy Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher leaves a military courtroom on Naval Base San Diego with his wife, Andrea Gallagher, on May 30, 2019.   (AP Photo/Julie Watson, File)
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(Newser) – A Navy SEAL medic said at a court martial Thursday that it was he who killed a captured ISIS fighter in Iraq in 2017—not Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, who is accused of the murder. After Gallagher stabbed the teen, causing what Special Operator First Class Corey Scott testified was not a life-ending wound, Scott says he applied pressure to the captive's breathing tube to cause death, per the New York Times. "I wanted to save him from waking up to whatever would have happened to him," Scott said, suggesting Iraqi forces would have tortured and killed the teen; the SEALs were helping Iraqi troops rid Mosul of ISIS fighters at the time. Prosecutors immediately said Scott was lying to protect Gallagher, noting he hadn't told that version of events in six previous interviews and citing the immunity he had been granted.

Prosecutors still plan to pursue a premeditated murder charge as various SEALs testified that Gallagher stabbed the teen in the neck or chest with his hunting knife before gathering the platoon to pose with the body on May 3, 2017. Lt. Tom MacNeil told a jury of seven Tuesday that Gallagher, a trained medic, had refused to treat the wounded militant; when he learned he belonged to ISIS, MacNeil testified that Gallagher said, "Lay off him, he's mine," and then drove two miles to him. In a photo shown in court, Gallagher is seen smiling and brandishing a knife while holding the ISIS fighter by the hair. NBC San Diego reports the court was told Gallagher text a photo from the scene to friends with the message, "Good story behind this. Got him with my hunting knife." Facing life in prison, the chief denies all charges. His trial, which kicked off Monday in San Diego, is expected to last up to three weeks. (Still possible: a presidential pardon.)

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