A judge in San Diego has dropped two charges against a Navy SEAL accused of stabbing a teenage Islamic State prisoner in Iraq and posing with the corpse.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Monday that the judge in the court-martial of Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher dropped a count related to the officer's battlefield re-enlistment ceremony next to the body. Also dropped was a charge related to Gallagher allegedly operating a drone over the corpse.
Gallagher attorney Colby Vokey calls those charges "character-smearing."
A Navy spokesperson, Brian O'Rourke, says that won't affect the rest of the case.
Gallagher faced an Article 32 hearing in November at Naval Base San Diego. During the hearing, U.S. Navy prosecutors accused Gallagher of premeditated murder for the stabbing death of an injured ISIS fighter who they estimate was about 15 years old. The stabbing happened in Mosul, Iraq, in May 2017.
Gallagher is still accused of stabbing the wounded fighter, firing on civilian crowds and shooting a girl and an elderly man during his 2017 deployment. He's pleaded not guilty to premeditated murder.
The decorated veteran has been held in the Miramar Brig since Sept. 11 when he was arrested at the Camp Pendleton Intrepid Spirit Center.
Gallagher has served 19 years in the U.S. Navy and more than 14 years as a Navy SEAL. He served eight tours of duty with six as an elite special forces operator.
In 2017, Gallagher was ranked as the top SEAL chief and his platoon was ranked as the top SEAL platoon.