A decorated Navy SEAL facing a court-martial for allegedly stabbing a teenage ISIS prisoner to death in Iraq and shooting at Iraqi civilians will remain in custody at the brig at Miramar during his trial, a judge ruled Thursday — rejecting a plea from Rep. Duncan Hunter.
Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher — a 19-year Navy veteran — is charged with premeditated murder and aggravated assault. He faces life in prison if convicted at a trial set to begin on Feb. 19.
Gallagher’s defense team asked a judge last week to release the defendant from pretrial confinement, but that request was denied Thursday, according to Navy spokesman Brian O’Rourke.
On Wednesday, Hunter, R-Alpine, said he sent a letter to President Trump saying the brig was not a proper place for confinement of a “war hero.”Hunter wrote about his concerns that Gallagher was being held in general population with convicted sexual offenders and pedophiles.
“Reportedly his children are required to wear ‘hospital gowns’ while they visit, so that they may not ‘bring unwanted attention from’ any of the other inmates,” Hunter wrote. “This policy seems irregularly harsh for someone that has not stood trial or even charged with any sexual misconduct charges.”
During an Article 32 hearing in November, Navy prosecutors accused Gallagher of killing an injured ISIS fighter who they estimate was about 15 years old. The fatal stabbing happened in Mosul. Iraq, in May 2017.
Rear Adm. Yancey Lindsey, commander of Navy Region Southwest, reviewed the evidence presented at the Article 32 hearing and determined that Gallagher should face court-martial.
Prosecutors also presented evidence that they said shows Gallagher tried to bribe fellow SEALs not to talk about the incident to NCIS investigators.
Gallagher’s attorney, Phil Stackhouse, said his client should be judged by a military jury of his peers because of the nature of the allegations in a combat zone.
Disgruntled SEALs made the allegations against Gallagher, his attorney said.
— City News Service contributed to this report.
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