A military jury has found Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher not guilty on almost all counts, including the killing of a wounded ISIS fighter.
He was only found guilty on one count related to taking a photo of the ISIS fighter’s corpse, which carries a maximum sentence of four months.
As Gallagher has already served nine months in pre-trial confinement, he will not serve any time in jail at all, his lawyer Tim Parlatore said.
“Suffice it to say — huge victory. Huge weight off the Gallagher, huge victory for justice,” said Marc Mukasey, one of Gallagher’s lawyers.
“He is going home,” said Tim Parlatore, another one of Gallagher’s lawyers.
There were five enlisted Marines and two sailors on the jury, including one Navy SEAL.
The not-guilty verdict for murder was first announced on Twitter by former New York Police Department Commissioner Bernie Kerik, who served on Gallagher’s defense team as an adviser:
BREAKING NEWS! Verdict in the trial of US NAVY SOC Cheif Eddie Gallagher: Not Guilty of Murdering the ISIS. Terrorist.
— Bernard B. Kerik (@BernardKerik) July 2, 2019
Gallagher was accused by a small group of junior SEALs he led during a deployment to Mosul, Iraq, in 2017 of stabbing a wounded 17-year-old ISIS fighter and shooting at innocent civilians.
The verdict marks a victory for those who championed Gallagher’s innocence, including President Trump, who in March had called for Gallagher to be moved to less restrictive pre-trial confinement so that he could better fight for his freedom:
In honor of his past service to our Country, Navy Seal #EddieGallagher will soon be moved to less restrictive confinement while he awaits his day in court. Process should move quickly! @foxandfriends @RepRalphNorman
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 30, 2019
After a report by the New York Times in May said that Trump was considering pardoning Gallagher, the president’s critics began attacking Gallagher, calling him a “war criminal.”
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tweeted in response to the report, “This is grotesque.”
This is grotesque. https://t.co/CvFf9rPO2H
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) May 20, 2019
The murder charge stemmed from accusations by the junior SEALs after an incident in Iraq.
On May, 4, 2017, the SEALs called in a Hellfire missile strike on a compound. All but one ISIS fighter were killed. Iraqi forces captured the surviving but wounded ISIS fighter to be interrogated for more than an hour. They then brought in the fighter to Gallagher’s platoon, where Gallagher and other Navy SEAL medics treated him, but he did not survive.
After the platoon returned home in the fall of 2017, the small group of three to four SEALs began complaining about Gallagher to commanders, arguing he had put their lives at risk. After their complaints went nowhere, they escalated their claims to war crimes, accusing Gallagher of killing the wounded ISIS fighter and shooting at innocent civilians.
Gallagher’s wife Andrea Gallagher and brother Sean Gallagher told Breitbart News in extensive interviews that those accusations stemmed from animosity towards Gallagher, who had reprimanded them for poor performance during the deployment.
In contrast, Gallagher was nominated for a Silver Star award, a coveting training assignment, and a promotion. The junior SEALs were trying to derail all of that, his family and defense team argued.
After the junior SEALs escalated their claims to war crimes, Navy Criminal Investigative Service got involved, leading the Navy to charge Gallagher with seven counts, including for killing the ISIS fighter and for shooting at innocent civilians.
The Gallaghers also found themselves in a fight against a false whisper campaign allegedly spread by unnamed officials that there was a damning video of Gallagher killing the ISIS fighter. No such video existed, the defense team found, when they were given all materials through discovery.
The prosecution’s case hit troubles even before it hit trial about three weeks ago. The judge in the case removed the Navy prosecution’s lead prosecutor, after defense attorneys discovered he had sent them software via emails that would allow them to track and spy on their and a journalist’s communications without a warrant.
Shortly after the trial began, a Navy SEAL medic — one of the prosecution’s own witnesses — testified that Gallagher did not kill the ISIS fighter, and that he had killed him instead.
The medic, Special Operator 1 Corey Scott, testified that he put his thumb over the ISIS fighter’s breathing tube, and suffocated him to death to spare him later torture by Iraqi forces.
Kerik told Breitbart News on Monday evening that the prosecution’s case crumbled after that testimony.
“The prosecutors put on a star witness who basically got on the stand and confessed to the murder of the ISIS terrorist,” he told Sirius XM’s Breitbart News Tonight with hosts Joel Pollak and Rebecca Mansour.
“At that point, this trial should have ended. It should have ended, realistically, before that. The government spied on defense attorneys. The government was engaged in misconduct, prosecutorial misconduct, the suppression of evidence, suppression of Brady material, suppression of exculpatory material,” he said.
Follow Breitbart News Pentagon correspondent at Kristina Wong at @kristina_wong