A jury of seasoned combat veterans reviewed the partial testimony of a prosecution witness on Tuesday before resuming deliberations in the murder case of the decorated Navy SEAL, who had been accused by colleagues of fatally stabbing the wounded war prisoner in Iraq and shooting civilians in separate incidents in 2017.
Jurors reportedly took notes as they listened to a recording of Lieutenant Thomas MacNeil, the first of nearly a dozen Seals who testified at the court-martial of the special operations chief who at Naval Base San Diego.
Mr Gallagher pleaded not guilty to seven charges, including premeditated murder for the prisoner’s death, attempted murder for shooting civilians and a violation for posing with the militant’s body after he died.
A military prosecutor asserted the proof of Mr Gallagher’s guilt was his own words, his own photos and the testimony of his fellow troops, while defence lawyers called the case a “mutiny” by entitled, junior Seals trying to oust a demanding chief.
The jury is made up of five Marines and two sailors, including a Seal, many of whom have been in combat in Iraq.
Defence lawyer Marc Mukasey said on Tuesday that he expected a quick verdict, given the makeup of the jurors and the looming 4 July holiday.
“Everybody wants to celebrate the holiday, right?” said Mr Mukasey, wearing a “Free Eddie” baseball cap emblazoned with the American flag.
During the two-week trial, Special Operator Corey Scott, a medic like Mr Gallagher, said he saw the chief stab the Islamic State militant in the neck but stunned the court when he said he was the one who ultimately killed him by plugging his breathing tube with his thumb as an act of mercy.
Under the military justice system, the prosecution needs two-thirds of the jury, or five members, to agree to a guilty verdict. Jurors can also convict him of lesser charges or acquit him.
US Navy Commander Jeff Pietrzyk said in closing arguments that text messages by Mr Gallagher showed he was guilty.
One message said: "Good story behind this. Got him with my hunting knife.”
During the trial, it was revealed that nearly all the platoon members readily posed for photos with the dead prisoner and watched as Mr Gallagher read his reenlistment oath near the body. He was convicted for the photographs by the judge, who said he would receive credit for serving 201 days pre-trial.
Additional reporting by AP
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