Jury Finds Blackwater Guards 'Guilty' On Murder, Manslaughter Charges

Jury Finds Blackwater Guards 'Guilty' On Murder, Manslaughter Charges

On October 22 four former Blackwater guards received a guilty verdict for the shootings of 31 Iraqis on September 16, 2007.

Fourteen Iraqis died and 17 others were wounded in the incident.

According to an Associated Press report, the jury found Nicholas Slatten guilty of first-degree murder and Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, and Dustin Heard were found guilty “on multiple counts of voluntary manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and gun violations.”

The gun violations alone carry “a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years in prison.”

The four guards were “[operating] in risky environments where car bombs and attacks by insurgents were common” at the time of the shootings. Defense attorneys claimed Slatten, Slough, Liberty, and Heard acted in self-defense in this environment, but the prosecution countered by painting them as men who “harbored a low regard and deep hostility toward Iraqi civilians.”

Shots fired at a white Kia sedan were key in the verdicts. The defense argued that the Kia was moving when Blackwater guards fired on it–they also argued that someone other Slatten fired the first shot. But “two Iraqi police officers and one of the shooting victims testified the car was stopped at the time the shots were fired.” Prosecutors used this testimony to argue that “the shots were unwarranted.” 

All four guards were sent to jail upon receiving the verdict. 

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