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Sgt. Shot Unarmed Iraqi,
Soldier Says

Associated Press, December 11, 2007

11 December 2007

By ANGELA K. BROWN
Associated Press Writer

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) - An Army sergeant kicked and shot an Iraqi insurgent who lay bleeding from nearly two dozen gunshot wounds, then after he was dead told fellow soldiers to say the man had been armed, a private at the scene testified Tuesday.

Sgt. Leonardo Trevino, 30, is charged with premeditated murder, attempted murder, assault and obstruction of justice in the suspected June incidents in Muqdadiyah, Iraq.

After the Article 32 hearing, similar to a civilian grand jury, the investigating officer will decide whether there is enough evidence to support the charges and then recommend whether to refer Trevino to a court-martial, a military trial.

Trevino's attorney Richard Stevens has said his client is wrongly accused.

That night in June, squad leader Trevino had led a "small kill team" to an area where insurgents were reportedly making improvised explosive devices, Pvt. Tristan Miller testified.

The soldiers got into a gun battle with three insurgents, killing one who had an AK-47, then went after the other two, Miller said. One got away, but they followed a trail of blood into a house where an insurgent lay crying and bleeding, Miller said.

Trevino kicked the man in the head and later shot him in the abdomen, even after Miller found no weapons under a pillow covering the man's bleeding arm, Miller said. Miller, who acknowledged that he earlier kicked the man's hand as he grabbed at him, said the insurgent was not a threat because he was "shot to hell" from the earlier gun battle.

"Trevino looks at us, and he said, 'I don't want this coming back on you guys,'" Miller said. "... Trevino goes, 'The story is, the guy had a pistol. That's that.'"

Cpl. Justin Whiteman then placed a pistol by the Iraqi's body, Miller said. Whiteman, who invoked his right not to testify when he was called as a witness Tuesday, has been charged with dereliction of duty for failing to provide aid and with accessory to attempted premeditated murder.

Whiteman also is accused of shooting the body of the first Iraqi insurgent killed, who was already dead in the street, and is charged with dereliction of duty for violating a law of war.

"Everybody was pretty excited, taking pictures," Miller said, referring to soldiers surrounding the body of the first insurgent killed.

But Sgt. Reginald Graham, the platoon sergeant, said Miller and three other soldiers didn't report the incident until much later. Graham said he didn't believe their explanation that they were scared of retaliation but believes they came forward because they disliked Trevino.

"He's outstanding," Graham said, adding that he had no concerns over Trevino's leadership style.

During questioning by Trevino's attorney, Miller said that he liked the squad leader "for the most part" but that "I think some of the stuff he did was stupid." When asked whether he had been paying full attention to the events that night, Miller acknowledged that he felt sick after seeing the badly wounded insurgent.

Spc. John Torres has been charged with attempted premeditated murder and with dereliction of duty for failing to provide aid. Torres also invoked his right not to testify on Tuesday.

Stevens said Trevino and other soldiers were upset over losing several friends killed in roadside bombings and a helicopter crash about a month earlier, Stevens said. When the hearing continues Wednesday, he said, he plans to present into evidence a videotape of Trevino speaking at the memorial service of one of those soldiers.