Skip to comments.Parents say (Army) son rejects plea deal in Iraq killings, is innocent
Posted on 08/09/2007 10:49:28 PM PDT by xzins
Mother: Son did not kill innocent Iraqis Family reflects on ordeal involving Candler soldier ASHEVILLE, N.C. The parents of a North Carolina soldier charged with killing three Iraqis and planting weapons on them say their son turned down a plea offer and maintains his innocence.
Staff Sgt. Michael A. Hensley, of Candor, is one of three soldiers charged with murder and obstruction of justice. The deaths occurred between April and June south of Baghdad.
"In your worst nightmare, you don't think something like this could happen," Jannette Hensley said Tuesday.
The Hensleys are from the Asheville area and have been out of the country working as missionaries in Macedonia. Jannette Hensley came back to North Carolina over the weekend.
Michael Hensley is being held in Kuwait and stays in regular contact with his parents. He last spoke to his mother Tuesday morning, she said.
His father, Bill Hensley, remains in Macedonia for now. The parents said their son refused a military plea deal. The military didn't immediately respond to inquiries about the case.
"He's not saying he didn't kill them," Jannette Hensley said. "He's just saying they were legitimate (kills). I believe him. He's just very adamant about it."
Spc. Jorge G. Sandoval, Jr., of Laredo, Texas, was charged with Hensley in June, the military said. They were accused of killing the Iraqis near Iskandariyah, a mostly Sunni Arab city south of Baghdad, and placing weapons on their bodies to make them look like fighters. Charges against them included wrongful placement of weapons.
Sgt. Evan Vela, of Rigby, Idaho, was charged in July with one count of premeditated murder, making a false official statement and obstruction of justice, the military said in a statement.
The soldiers are members of the Fort Richardson, Alaska-based 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade (Airborne) of the 25th Infantry Division.
Jannette Hensley said her son caught malaria in Afghanistan and stayed in the Army instead of being discharged. He deployed on his first tour in Iraq in October.
Her son had been in Iraq a month when his best friend was killed in a roadside bombing. She said her son watched the soldier die. Michael Hensley's fiance committed suicide two months later in Alaska and he returned home to bury her, she said.
"In my heart, I didn't feel like he was ready" to return to Iraq, Jannette Hensley said.
I was on vacation near Asheville NC when I saw this headline about Hensley grieving mother in the Asheville paper. We can’t post the Asheville Citizen Times on Free Republic, so I found the information elsewhere.
I’m not familiar with the Iskandariyah charges against Hensley & Sandoval.
Anyone know anything?
Eisenhower had a very good grasp on the connection between the military and politics ... I think we're seeing a simular phenomenom.
I honestly didn’t hear of this one
When they get his friends to take plea bargains, that is all that will matter, he will be convicted regardless of the evidence
I am sick of this dragging our troops before tribunals based on the accusations of Muslims. There is something terrible about offering the so-called bereaved money when they have a family member killed. There is something terrible about receiving accusations but refusing to insist on forensic evidence.
I suppose they believe our soldiers keep AK47’s that they can just pull them out when they need them???
If these troops DID put AKs with bodies, wouldn’t they be saying that these AKs were found at the site of the firefight??? What is so wrong with that?
Can’t they simply explain that fact and be told to drive on with their mission?
Should have pinged you to the article, CB, this is Shuler’s District. Someone should note whether he tries to help this soldier or just gives his family the old razzle-dazzle.
Should have pinged you to the article, CB, this is Shuler’s District. Someone should note whether he tries to help this soldier or just gives his family the old razzle-dazzle. (The Citizen-Times says Shuler knows about this.)
I don't have much to jeapordize by things I say, and I'll wager other men are in the same position.
We may not understand how or why younger people come to the conclusions they do, or why they do what they do.
It's easy for me to sit here and feel the angst about a matter ... because I jeapordize no one .. not even myself.
A younger man is looking into a future that, at best, reveals only that he is (will be) alive.
All his plans and dreams vaporize when he is accused of something that invalidates all the decisions he's made to date.
We whom dare, must expose the socialists and confront them at every turn ... hoping that we might validate our own existence ... that of the framer's posterity.
As your home page reveals ... some things are of prayer only.
This is the uncle of Sgt. Evan Vela. He has told the family he was
ordered to fire by a superior officer and followed that order. The person
in question was identified as a person on an Al Queada list.
Vela has been offered a plea agreement. WE are pissed. The military
says he has been trained to distinguish an “illegal” order from a “legal”
order and didn’t have to follow that order. More B.S. My brother has
been in contact with Senator Mike Crapo’s office, who say they can’t help.
The military has more or less decided his fate. If this person was the
enemy, then why the charges? What did The President send those people over
there for? Who cares if this bastard was executed? Do you think the
families of all the Americans, from the Revolutionary War to the
present, who have died to make and keep this the best place on the
planet to live, really care?
These people hide behind
womens skirts, slaughter us, slaughter their own, and then cry foul. If we are now so seemingly
willing to eat our young, then it is past time to wave the white flag, and
bring everyone home. If we are going to turn on our own, then we need to
stand and cheer every time another American dies.
It is good to hear from you. I’m glad you signed up for Free Republic today. Welcome.
I have read your comments, and it sounds like they were in a combat or insurgent environment and were doing their job....catching or killing terrorists.
Is there a newspaper article anyplace that covers what supposedly happened at Iskandiriyah with Hensley, Sandoval, and Vela?
This whole thing sounds fishy to me.
Where do soldiers GET AK7’s in the first place? They get them from the enemies they’ve just shot. My comment on that is: “What’s wrong with that?”
I know that our troops were FORBIDDEN to have contraband weapons they had taken from the enemy, so it’s not like our guys have such things stashed in their bunks and vehicles. It simply doesn’t happen that way.
Those AK’s were on the battlefield that day. AK’s are the weapons of the enemy. What were they doing there?
Also, Uncle, do you know if there was a firefight that day?
I pray that he is exonerated. Something stinks about this whole episode.
My nephew has told the family his mission has been part of what I call a Hunter/Killer squad. They are given files on people and then sent out to find these people, whether on patrols or in a sniper scenario, where they wait, sometimes for days. When the target is identified, the target is eliminated. SOP is two shots to the head. If they are planting weapons then I believe it is sanctioned. But like in Mission Impossible, if any of your team is caught, then the government will disavow any knowledge or culpability. And you are fed to the wolves. Evan’s plea offer is 17 years in Leavenworth. The alternative is life. In the military, life is life, whereas,in Idaho, you can be eligible for parole in 25. His JAG attorney, a career man, I’m sure, has been told the best bet is to take the deal. The Judge is the C.O. of the 101 first and said to be a hanging judge. The JAG atty. indicated the military wants it over and capped. My brother has told JAG to slow this down, they want it over by Aug. 31. But we want more information. And we cannot afford private council, which will be the only way hard questions are asked. Hoping, Praying for a better outcome.The people/person giving these orders have (effectively) killed 6 people, 3 of theirs, 3 of our own.
The uncle says in #14 below that they are snipers.
They are light infantry, so that type of mission is possible. It would not necessarily, then, be in the context of a firefight.
My name is Clayton Carnahan. I am Evan Vela’s uncle. I will be speaking with the Idaho State Attorney General’s office On Monday 8/13/2007, in reference to starting a defense fund and then start asking for contributions. I am searching for any people or organizations who can help in this endeavor. I live in Shelley, Idaho. I will be coordinating these efforts with another of Evan’s uncles, David Vela. Further info to follow when we have the proper paperwork filed and a website up and running.
It appears that the fights in question occurred between April and June....that's the nearest I can tell from the news articles I have seen.
What we don't have is a description of those battles at that time. I haven't found a single article on the subject.
What we need is some description of what was going one:
1. We need it from the perspective of each of the young troops involved.
2. We need it from the perspective of other unit members.
3. We need anything written by any investigators, reporters, or witnesses.
Even without all these things, I will automatically side with our troops, because (1)they are in the middle of a war and deserve the benefit of any doubt; and (2) our system says they are INNOCENT until PROVEN guilty.
The one bit of info that we do have that troubles me is that they are accused of planting AK47's on the bodies. As everyone knows, our troops don't have AK's; they aren't allowed to "save" AK's, but have to turn them in; and AKs aren't just lying around everywhere, easy to pick up anytime on wants one.
In short, they got those AKs during a battle/fight, and it makes most sense that they got them during that particular battle/fight. Did anyone even bother to check if they'd been fired?
Has anyone read the article on the soldiers who were sent to raid an island and to “kill any man of military age there” which they did while trying to take three men prisoner. They say the three offered resistance and felt under their ROE that their action was justified. Or the article where NCO’s are telling troops to watch news feeds to learn what not to do in Iraq. Aren’t our soldiers trained to rely on the command structure? Under the duress of any field operation, surely any soldiers reliance is in the command structure. If that structure is a house of cards, any little breeze causes it to fall...
It is Hensley who is claiming his kills were legitimate. Vela is being charged with one of the three killings, as is Sandoval. Hensley is being charged with all three. Hensley was in command of the unit.
Every indication is that these are normal Americans, loved in their communities, respected in their units, being promoted at a normal to above-normal pace, and very experienced in the climate of war in Iraq.
One article says: “either IED materials or small arms” were planted. I assume those papers got that information from some source. They fail to mention the source. Often the media will report in a sensationalistic way and ignore anything exculpatory in a report.
My experience says that the Army simply doesn’t allow its troops to collect AK47s or IED materials and KEEP THEM. They MUST turn them in. If found with them, it is a court-martial offense.
Where did the AK47s come from that these troops supposedly “placed around the bodies?” If they came from that day’s battle space, which is most likely, then why are the soldiers wrong to assign them to the bodies of those they thought to be insurgents. It’s not like they have the enemy weapons cards and have absolute knowledge about which weapons goes with which body.
Why would they assign them to particular bodies? Because they have a responsibility to report during an AAR (After Action Review) about the sequence and events in a battle.
I think they’re innocent.
I have learned that vela made a statement reflecting what his co told him to report. Apparently his conscience took over and he filed a clear and concise statement as to what really took place. This is where his charges stem from (filing a false report among the rest) We don’t know any real particulars of the events or situation. The military is very reticent.So innocent, maybe not completely so, mitigating circumstances, definitely, but not knowing what they were actually doing makes it very hard to make any judgments. We love and support evan with all our hearts, minds, and souls.
Here’s the Centcom link to the original press release. They have no new info, and really appear to be using a standard reporting format.
A similar article on Vela is on the July 2/3 pages of the Centcom site.
The biggest challenge will be a lack of information. We got fairly regular reports on Hamdania and Haditha because the North County Times covers Pendleton.
I’ve looked on both the Centcom and the MNF-Iraq websites, and all we get is the bare bones information.
We need the soldiers themselves to get their lawyers to get some information out.
We don’t even know when the incidents are supposed to have taken place.
Most of our information has come from news reports, which also amounts to very little. My brother has been in limited phone contact, but can’t get much hard info as calls are monitored. The Military Combat Defense Fund has evinced interest in helping. Private counsel is way beyond our means, working check to check. But out resovle is strong. Evan’s JAG Attorney is no help. We’re going to try and delay this long enough to get him home. If you feel Strongly enough tell everyone you know to get involved, and stop this madness.
For all of our sakes, for all our troops.
We'll do what we can to start getting the word out. Please stay in touch. You can always reach me at WarChronicle@Verizon.net.
And let me know if youf family needs any help finding a lawyer.
Vela, on advice from his Jag attorney, has waived his Article 32. Guess whose side he’s on. This story, as far as we know, was first reported by the Anchorage Daily News. They were the first to contact us, don’t know how to ping,pong or much else with this contraption. Send a prayer for evan’s new daughter, born this spring, that he may be around to see her grow up. That’s what he’s fighting for.
Fred, in the military the Art 32 hearing is the same as a civilian grand jury hearing. The point of the Art 32 is to see if there is enough evidence to require that the case go to a trial.
The military is actually better than the civilian, though, because in a military Art 32, the defendant is allowed to present evidence and must get all the evidence that the prosecution has. It has been BECAUSE of the Art 32 hearings for the Marines, that General Mathis has decided NOT to have them go to trial.
Another point is that there is no jeopardy at an Art 32 hearing. I'm really puzzled by your nephew being advised to waive his Art 32.
Can you tell me the RANK and years of military experience of his lawyer? Does he have a civilian lawyer, too?
Hey..frp mail is busted...did you get an answer?
not yet. did you get what I sent you? I think what I sent to them went out ok. but when I try the reply to you, nada.
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