Saturday, September 29, 2007
Father of soldier charged w/ murder speaks UP!
Father of soldier charged with murder says son did nothing wrong The Associated Press Article Last Updated: 09/28/2007 01:58:49 PM MDT IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - Curtis Carnahan is convinced his son did nothing wrong. He's also certain the horror of war is to blame for the legal troubles facing Sgt. Evan Vela, a U.S. Army sniper who was serving in Iraq. Military officials don't see it the same way. This summer, Vela and two other soldiers were charged with crimes related to the April and May shooting deaths of unarmed Iraqi men and subsequent efforts to cover it up. On Friday, a military panel acquitted U.S. Army Spc. Jorge G. Sandoval on charges he killed two unarmed Iraqis, but it convicted him of planting evidence on one of the men in attempt to cover justify the actions. Army lawyers say Vela took part in the May shooting, placed a weapon on the man's remains, made false statements to investigators and obstructed justice. Vela testified in Sandoval's trial in Baghdad this week, but will be tried separately. Carnahan, 44, said it's unbelievable his son could be charged with such crimes during a war. "If we're going to start prosecuting our soldiers for this type of thing, we might as well just roll the whole show up," Carnahan told the Post-Register before leaving this week for Iraq, where he intends to testify in his son's upcoming preliminary hearing. "It's absolutely wrong to Advertisement prosecute soldiers who are in combat," he said. Vela, 23, a native of St. Anthony and graduate of Rigby High School, is a sniper with the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, based at Fort Richardson, Alaska. Before his deployment to Iraq, Vela lived with his wife, Alyssa Vela, and two children in Anchorage, Alaska. The investigation into the shootings began when two soldiers complained that members of their unit were planting weapons on targets to make the killings appear legitimate. Testimony at preliminary hearings has attempted to discredit the motivation of those soldiers. Lawyers hired by Carnahan argued in court documents this week that some of the snipers in Vela's unit were aware of a classified program that allows sharpshooters to bait targets with suspicious items, such as detonation wire, before firing. Defense lawyer Gary Myers said Vela was simply following orders, doing his job as he was told to do it. An Army spokesman declined to comment on the program, but said there are no classified methods that authorize the killing of Iraqi nationals or use planted weapons to justify the deaths. The financial and emotional price of defending his son is taking a toll, Carnahan said. The retainer to hire Myers exceeded Carnahan's annual salary working for a printing company in Idaho Falls. Carnahan said he has taken out a second mortgage on his home. Friends also have set up a trust fund at a local bank to handle donations for Vela's legal defense. Carnahan acknowledges the legal odds appear stacked against his son, but he's not ready to give up. "One of his biggest concerns is he wanted to know if he could stay in the Army when this is over with, which I think speaks very highly of his character and his desire to continue with the military," Carnahan said. PLEASE RESPECT,THANK,HONOR,SUPPORT & PRAY FOR OUR TROOPS,VETS,FIRST RESPONDERS and THEIR FAMILIES ;-)