Testimonies Continue as War Crimes Trial of Navy SEAL Enters Second Week

The second week of the court-martial for Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher began with forensic testimony

What to Know

  • Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward Gallagher is accused of premeditated murder after a stabbing in Mosul, Iraq in May 2017
  • Gallagher has served 19 years in the US Navy and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal twice
  • Prosecutors have said Gallagher tried to bribe fellow SEALs not to talk about the incident to NCIS investigators

A pathologist testified Monday in the court-martial of a decorated U.S. Navy SEAL that a wounded Islamic State militant could have died from a stabbing described by other witnesses.

Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher is charged with fatally stabbing the young prisoner in Iraq and has pleaded not guilty. The second week of the controversial trial began with forensic testimony.

Two fellow SEALs say Gallagher stabbed the militant after treating his injuries from an airstrike.

Dr. Frank Sheridan was questioned about video entered into evidence showing Gallagher attending to the wounded ISIS detainee.

As the video was played in court members of the Iraqi military could be heard, and what sounded like a moan from the detainee as Gallagher handled the detainee's injured leg.

“Let me know if you need help Eddie,” can be heard on the video. 

Sheridan declined to offer a cause of death because information was lacking. Also, Sheridan said there was no autopsy for him to see. 

Sheridan described the effects that a stab wound would have on the area of the neck as described in the witness testimony of both SEAL Corey Scott and veteran SEAL Craig Miller.

Sheridan based his testimony on other witnesses and video of the patient before the stabbing.

He testified the wounded ISIS detainee was still alive, responsive, talking, and there was no sign of active bleeding.

When asked by the prosecution “Did you see an injury to the neck?" Sheridan replied, "No I didn’t.”

Then in a photo shown in court of the body of the ISIS detainee. He described what he saw including the blood that was pictured on the upper arm and on the ground under the ISIS fighter.

And while he said that in either description the stab wound could be fatal, when asked by the prosecution if a stab wound was the cause of death Sheridan said, “Can’t give cause of death, just isn’t enough evidence.”

The only photograph of the dead wounded ISIS prisoner shows a big patch of white gauze over the neck blocking any view of a stab wound.

The defense has said “no forensics, no autopsy, no body, no murder." 

A bombshell was dropped Thursday when a prosecution witness testified he was the one who killed the fighter in Mosul, Iraq, in May 2017 — not  Gallagher, who faces charges of murder and attempted murder.

The witness, U.S. Navy SEAL SO1 Corey Scott, had wanted to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, but the judge rejected that. Instead, he was granted immunity to testify for the prosecution.

Scott said he saw Gallagher stab the prisoner but in a way that would not have killed him: behind the collar bone toward the back on the right side.

“The stabbing I saw yes, he would have survived," Scott said.

For the first time, Scott said he was the one who killed the ISIS fighter by asphyxiation. 

"I knew he was going to die anyway," Scott said. “I wanted to save him from waking up to what had happened next."

Scott said the fighter was going to be turned over to the Iraqi forces and that he had previously seen those forces torture, rape and murder prisoners.

The testimony rattled the prosecutor, who called his own witness a liar, according to NBC 7's Artie Ojeda, who was in the courtroom.

In previous interviews with investigators, Scott had said the fighter died of asphyxiation but no one asked him to clarify that.

Defense attorneys have said there’s no body, autopsy or forensic evidence to show a killing happened. The case was built on lies by junior SEALs who hated Gallagher because he was tough, according to the defense.

Gallagher, whose case has drawn President Donald Trump’s attention, faces seven counts that include premeditated murder and attempted murder.

He’s also accused of shooting two civilians — an elderly man and a school-age girl — from sniper perches in Iraq in 2017.

He has pleaded not guilty and could face a life sentence.

The trial is expected to last up to three weeks. The jury is composed of five enlisted men, including a Navy SEAL and four Marines, plus a Navy commander and a Marine chief warrant officer. Most of the jurors have served in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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