Defense claims soldier just ‘reacted’ in Iraqi killing
The Schofield Barracks soldier accused of killing an unarmed Iraqi civilian only did what he was trained to do, his lawyer argued yesterday.
Frank Spinner, attorney for Sgt. 1st Class Trey Corrales, said the shooting was done in a legitimate combat operation and that Corrales came across the Iraqi when he was checking the back yard of the home where suspected insurgents had taken refuge in a village near Kirkuk.
"Then he did what he was trained to do as a soldier," Spinner added, "and just reacted and shot. ... This was not a case of unlawful killing or premeditated murder."
On Monday, Corrales, 35, pleaded not guilty to the premeditated murder of a wounded Iraqi civilian last June 22, and also to accusations that he ordered another soldier, Pvt. Christopher Shore, to "finish" the victim. Corrales also denies planting an AK-47 rifle near the body.
Army investigator Jesse Whaley testified that Corrales gave him three versions of the shooting incident, including one in which he confessed to shooting the victim at least four times.
Spc. Franklin Hambrick testified yesterday that he was in the back yard with Corrales and the unit's interpreter when Corrales repeatedly told the detainee to run and even told the interpreter to translate the order into Arabic.
Hambrick said the Iraqi kept walking backward with his hands up, "looking confused."
At the same time Corrales started slowly raising his M-4 carbine.
"As soon as he (Corrales) zoomed in," Hambrick said. "I looked away and stepped into the house. That's when I heard three or four shots go off."
Corrales faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole if convicted.
Spinner said Corrales acknowledges shooting the Iraqi but denies ordering Shore, 26, to "finish him."
In opening statements at Corrales' court-martial at Wheeler Army Airfield yesterday, Spinner told a jury of five enlisted soldiers and four officers that "the challenge" they face is "weighing the testimony of witnesses in what is a credibility contest."
He also pointed out that no ballistic studies were done to show whether Corrales or Shore fired the fatal rounds.
During yesterday's daylong session, Shore, who was convicted of aggravated assault two months ago, testified that Corrales told his platoon before the start of the raid "to kill all military-age males."
During the raid, Shore said, he went into the back yard of the home of suspected bomb-makers after he heard several shots.
"I saw the detainee lying on the ground," Shore testified. "I saw blood."
Shore said Corrales then put his hand on his chest and "told me to finish him. I took it to mean to kill him."
Shore said he fired two shots off to the side.