Jordanian soldier gets life term for killing 3 US troopsJuly 17, 2017 4:44pm

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — A Jordanian soldier was sentenced Monday to life in prison after being convicted of killing three U.S. military trainers last year, but some said questions lingered about his motive for the shooting at a Jordanian air base.

Jordan has ruled out terrorism in the November shooting in which the convoy of the U.S. Army Green Berets came under fire at the base entrance.

The defendant has said he felt no animosity toward Americans and opened fire because he believed the base was coming under attack.

However, relatives of the slain U.S. troops have described security camera footage that they say shows him shooting for six minutes, reloading and aiming at the Americans, even as they identify themselves as friendly forces.

After a "not guilty" plea, the Jordanian soldier, 1st Sgt. Marik al-Tuwayha, was tried by a military court in Jordan's capital of Amman for the killings of Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Lewellen, 27, of Kirksville, Missouri; Staff Sgt. Kevin J. McEnroe, 30, of Tucson, Arizona; and Staff Sgt. James F. Moriarty, 27, of Kerrville, Texas.

During the monthlong trial, he watched the proceedings silently while standing in a cage in the courtroom.

He did not react Monday when the judge announced the verdict and the maximum possible sentence, life in prison with hard labor. When he was led out of the cage, he said: "I have all the respect for the king, but I was doing my job."

Relatives of two of the U.S. soldiers sat quietly as the judge read the ruling.

Charles Lewellen, 53, whose son was killed, later told The Associated Press that the verdict "won't take the pain away," but that it proved "what we have been saying all along ... that he murdered our sons."

Some of the relatives criticized Jordan's handling of the case and said the defendant should have received the death penalty. Jordan allows the death penalty, but it is usually handed down in terrorism cases or in a murder coupled with another crime.

The Americans were killed Nov. 4, as their convoy waited at the gate to the al-Jafr base in southern Jordan. Jordan initially said the Americans triggered the shooting by disobeying entry rules, a claim that was later withdrawn.

The trial "confirmed that the deceased U.S. service members followed all established procedures when accessing the base the day of the incident, as we have noted before," the U.S. Embassy in Jordan said. "We are reassured to see the perpetrator brought to justice."

Jordan is a member of a U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State group extremists in neighboring Syria and Iraq. Jordan hosts troops, including trainers, from the U.S. and other countries as part of the anti-IS battle.

"We are pleased to see that the perpetrators have been brought to justice," said U.S. Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman. He said the U.S. respects Jordan's military process and praised Jordan for adhering to its own laws in resolving the case expeditiously.

Davis wouldn't comment on possible motives for the killing.

At the trial, al-Tuwayha and some of the gate guards testified they heard what might have been a pistol shot coming from the direction of the U.S. convoy. Al-Tuwayha said he opened fire because he feared the base was under attack. Other guards said they held their fire because they couldn't determine the source of the sound.

Al-Tuwayha has said he had "no intention of killing anyone" and felt no resentment toward Americans.

According to the surveillance video described by the relatives, Lewellen and McEnroe were the first to be hit by gunfire. Moriarty and another soldier jumped out of their cars to take cover and returned fire from their pistols, according to the descriptions of the video. They yelled that they were friendly forces, the relatives said.

The defendant kept shooting, they said. He was seriously wounded in the exchange.

The video was shown to the family by U.S. law enforcement, but has not been released to the public.

Some of the relatives have questioned why the video was not screened at the trial and why the court did not ask a surviving U.S. soldier to testify, despite what they said was his willingness to do so.

Moriarty's father, Jim, wrote in a letter Monday to the Jordanian Embassy in the U.S. that the "successful prosecution" was a "good first step, but it is only the first step."

In the letter, a copy of which was given to the AP, Moriarty listed several demands to Jordan. These included allowing the defendant to be re-interviewed by the FBI about his motive and releasing the security video to the families. Moriarty, a lawyer, said the video had been entered into evidence at the trial.

Cynthia Lewellen, 53, the mother of Matthew Lewellen, expressed sympathy for all those affected by the shooting, including the family of the defendant.

"In this verdict, nobody comes out happy," she said. "I mean for us as losing our sons and knowing the man that killed him will spend 20 years in prison, but also for his family that because of his actions ... lost a father, a husband, a provider."

In Jordan, life in prison can mean 20 years, with time off for good behavior.

Defense lawyer Subhi al-Mawas said he would appeal Monday's court ruling.

Earlier this year, a Jordanian soldier who killed seven Israeli schoolgirls in a 1997 shooting rampage was released after 20 years.

Page 1 of 1

More Stories Like This

Parents sentenced in boy's fatal shooting of sisterA judge has sentenced the parents of a 2-year-old girl fatally shot by her 6-year-old brother to probation and community service in the girl's death.
Coast Guard spent $300K searching for man who faked deathAn Alaska man suspected of faking his death to avoid a prison term has been charged with conspiracy and false distress
Lawsuit: Ohio police shooting of black man wasn't justifiedA lawsuit alleges Ohio police shot and mortally wounded a black man without justification and conspired to provide misleading information about the July 7 confrontation
FILE - In this July 11, 2017, file photo, Indrek Redard, who works for the property management company, views the damage after an explosion Monday night outside an Air Force recruitment office in Bixby, Okla. Benjamin Don Roden, an ex-Air Force airman, faces several federal explosives charges after being accused of setting off a pipe bomb at the recruiting center. (Mike Simons//Tulsa World via AP, File)
FBI: Pipe bomb found in Oklahoma had unusual features
Sex offender gets prison after groping woman on flightA registered sex offender who admitted that he improperly touched a sleeping woman aboard a flight from Israel to the U.S. has been sentenced to 13 months in prison
Mayor Betsy Hodges, center, and Assistant Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, left, address the latest developments in the death of Justine Damond, Tuesday, July 18, 2017, in Minneapolis, Minn. Damond, of Australia, was shot and killed on Saturday, July 15 by a Minneapolis police officer after she called 911 to report what she believed to be a possible assault. (Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Tribune via AP)
Minneapolis police officer has yet to talk to investigators
AdChoices

Related Searches

Related Searches

Most Popular

AdChoices