A military jury acquitted a decorated Navy SEAL of premeditated murder Tuesday in the killing of a wounded Islamic State captive under his care in Iraq in 2017, the AP reports. Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher was cleared of all charges except for posing for photos with the dead body of the captive in a verdict that is a major blow to military prosecutors. It took the jury less than two days of deliberations to reach its verdict. Gallagher reacted with "tears of joy, emotion, freedom and absolute euphoria," defense lawyer Marc Mukasey said. "Suffice it to say this is a huge victory," Mukasey said outside court. "It's a huge weight off the Gallaghers."
The panel of five Marines and two sailors, including a SEAL, had to weigh whether Gallagher, a 19-year veteran on his eighth deployment, went off the rails and fatally stabbed the war prisoner on May 3, 2017, as a kind of trophy kill, or was the victim of allegations fabricated after the platoon returned to San Diego to stop him from getting a Silver Star and being promoted. The case gave a rare public view of a deep division in the insular and revered SEAL community. Both sides told jurors that witnesses had lied on the stand and it was their duty to push through the evidence to find the truth. Gallagher, 40, did not take the stand. (Much more on the case here, including why one witness with immunity may end up charged after all.)