FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) _ Nearly a year ago, a gun battle erupted after a team of U.S. Army soldiers went to a dangerous area of Muqdadiyah, Iraq, where insurgents were known to be making explosive devices.
When the night was over, one al-Qaida insurgent lay dead in the street. Another Iraqi — severely wounded in the shootout — was shot to death by an Army sergeant as he lay on the floor of a house, unarmed and begging for his life, according to testimony at a previous military hearing.
When his court-martial begins Monday at Fort Hood, Sgt. Leonardo Trevino of San Antonio faces up to life in a military prison and a discharge if convicted on premeditated murder and other charges in connection with the wounded insurgent's death last summer.
Trevino is accused of shooting the Iraqi twice: in the abdomen, a nonfatal wound, and then in the head, fatally, after ordering an Army medic to suffocate him. Trevino also is accused of lying to his superior, telling a soldier to drop a gun by the Iraqi's body and instructing troops to say the man was armed.
Trevino's attorney Richard V. Stevens has said the witnesses lack credibility and are holding grudges against their squad leader because Trevino disciplined them when they made mistakes.
Military prosecutors declined to comment before the trial. But at a hearing in December, a prosecutor said Trevino went to great lengths to kill the Iraqi and told fellow soldiers, "I tried to kill this guy; he just wouldn't die."
In two separate military trials last month, Trevino's two co-defendants were acquitted on charges stemming from the incident, Fort Hood officials said.
Spc. John Torres, the Army medic accused of trying to suffocate the insurgent, was acquitted March 6 of attempted premeditated murder and dereliction of duty for failing to provide aid.
Cpl. Justin Whiteman, accused of placing the pistol by the insurgent's body, was acquitted March 14 of accessory to attempted premeditated murder and with dereliction of duty.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.