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February 13, 2014

Convicted U.S. ex-lieutenant granted parole

OKLAHOMA CITY — A former U.S. Army lieutenant from Oklahoma convicted of killing an Iraqi prisoner has been granted parole, the Army said Wednesday.

Former 1st Lt. Michael Behenna of Edmond had served five years of a 15-year sentence for his 2009 conviction on a charge of unpremeditated murder in a combat zone.

Behenna’s mother, Vicki Behenna, an assistant federal prosecutor in Oklahoma City, said she “immediately started crying” after learning about her son’s release.

“He called me today (Wednesday), actually on my way into work at about a quarter ’til 9,” Vicki Behenna said. She said he was scheduled to be released on March 14.

The Army Clemency and Parole Board denied Behenna’s request for clemency but granted him parole, Col. David Patterson said. He said the decision was based on factors “including a strong parole plan with family and community support.”

Vicki Behenna, of Edmond, said her son would work on a southwest Oklahoma cattle ranch and take classes at Oklahoma State University. Efforts to contact Michael Behenna, 30, at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where he was being held, were unsuccessful.

There was no dispute that Behenna was supposed to take the Iraqi prisoner home, but instead took him to a secluded railroad culvert, stripped him naked and shot him twice after interrogating him at gunpoint about an April 2008 roadside bombing that killed two men under Behenna’s command.

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