Lt. Michael Behenna Conviction UpHeld by Army Court of Appeals

Such sad and distressing news. My heart goes out to Michael and his family. The U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals has upheld the murder conviction of Lt. Michael Behenna. Behenna’s mother is a U.S. Attorney and has been working to get the conviction overturned. Defense has said prosecutors witheld evidence supporting Michael Behenna’s claims of self-defense. Behenna also sought a new trial. The decision to uphold the convictions was unanimous from the court of three judges…

Michael Behenna


WASHINGTON — A military appeals court has upheld Lt. Michael Behenna‘s conviction of unpremeditated murder in a combat zone. The court also upheld Behenna’s sentence and rejected his claims that his trial was marred by prosecutors withholding evidence that supported his contention of self-defense…

Behenna claimed prosecutors at his 2009 trial knew a forensic expert who was not called to testify would have provided evidence supporting Behenna’s claim of self-defense and that the prosecutors did not tell Behenna’s attorneys about the expert’s opinion.

Prosecutors are required to disclose all evidence they find that could help a defendant’s case.

The military judge in the 2009 trial refused to declare a mistrial when the issue was argued before him, and the appeals court upheld the judge’s decision…

Vicki Behenna said the expert’s testimony would have corroborated that of two other experts and given her son’s self-defense claim more credibility.

An original sentence of 25 years has been reduced to 15 years along the way. Without a new trial or parole, Behenna will be 40 years old or older before he can start his life again. On Michael’s 28th birthday in May 2011, his parents posted a message to his supporters (before this decision to uphold the conviction):

Michael Behenna

On May 18th Michael will ‘celebrate’ his 28th birthday behind bars. We use the word loosely of course because in prison there is no cake and candles and certainly no parties. This will be Michael’s third birthday at the prison in Ft. Leavenworth since he was convicted of killing a known terrorist in self-defense. Though his spirits remain high, life in prison takes its toll on even the strongest of men and that includes our Michael who waits patiently for a decision on his appeal.

The truth is we really don’t know when such a decision will be handed down. Michael’s appeal was filed in December 2009, the government responded in July 2010, and the argument before the Army Court of Appeals occurred in December 2010. We have heard nothing since. Michael’s remarkable attitude remains upbeat even in the face of these long delays. We credit his impressive resolve to the many supporters who have not left him behind and continually remind him of their support through letters, cards, books and magazine subscriptions.

Although some of you may wonder what an encouraging word or thought might mean to Michael, please know that you are his lifeline to the world. Unlike the terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay, Michael has no access to the internet or any computer for that matter. Through your cards and letters he at least gets a glimpse of what normal life is and can draw strength from your outstanding families and experiences. We try to divert his daily Groundhog Day-like schedule and get him to focus on holidays and special events. In that light, we would be very appreciative if Michael could be showered with birthday cards and letters from all of you. What a powerful message to send to him. You can send Michael your birthday well wishes to the following address:

Michael Behenna #87503
1300 N. Warehouse Road
Fort Leavenworth, KS 66027-2304

We wake every morning thinking this might be the day that the Appellate court rules on Michael’s case and he can finally come home. In light of Bin Laden’s death at the hands of the US military, we also hope that somehow the military might soften their stance and give clemency to our warriors incarcerated for killing Bin Laden’s henchmen. I still believe that somehow, some way, God will help our leaders see that Michael and the other Leavenworth10 soldiers deserve to be home with their families.

Thanks again for all your support as it is how Michael and our family survive each day.

Proud Parents of 1LT Michael Behenna
Scott and Vicki Behenna

More information at Defend Michael. For full background on this terrible story, blogger Bob McCarty at Bob McCarty Writes has the full Behenna story in nine separate parts.