In a dramatic moment right out of a TV courtroom drama, a Navy medic admitted in open court Thursday that he, rather than Navy SEAL war hero Chief Eddie Gallagher, caused the death of a wounded ISIS soldier who had been captured.
"Did Chief Gallagher kill this terrorist?" defense lawyer Timothy Parlatore asked SEAL Team 7 medic Corey Scott during cross examination.
With all eyes on the medic in the deathly quiet San Diego Naval Base courtroom, Scott replied "No."
Scott then told the court that he had held his thumb over the breathing tube that had been inserted into the insurgent's neck, thereby cutting off his airway and leading to his death by asphyxiation.
Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik, a member of the defense team, told Newsmax the surprise admission left the courtroom stunned.
Parlatore immediately moved for the dismissal of the high-profile case against Gallagher, a two-time Bronze star recipient. But the Navy judge hearing the military trial, Capt. Aaron Rugh, ruled that the prosecution would be allowed to proceed despite the evidence that Gallagher did not cause the jihadi's death.
Gallagher has also been charged with trying to shoot unarmed civilians. On Wednesday, the judge stated that the prosecution had not yet presented any evidence to support that charge.
It was the latest development in a high-profile military trial with more twists and turns than a country road. Earlier this month, Judge Rugh removed the lead prosecutor from the case after determining he had surreptitiously embedded tracking software in emails sent to Gallagher's attorneys, enabling the prosecution to monitor the defense team's activities.
Prosecutors ostensibly embedded the tracking software to try to learn who was leaking information about the case to the media. That malware reportedly spread to Air Force and Marine computer systems as well.
In a May 19 letter, David G. Wilson, the chief of staff of the Navy's Defense Service Offices, blasted the government's tactic, stating it raises "grave ethical concerns."
Wilson also warned: "As of now, the Navy's defense bar cannot be certain that the malware unleashed in these cases has been contained."
Kerik told Newsmax the medic's surprising account reflects larger problems with the way the prosecution has handled the case. He noted the prosecution had deposed Scott five or six times, yet never asked him what caused the asphyxiation.
"No credible investigator or prosecutor would have listened to that testimony, hear a witness say that ISIS detainee was asphyxiated, without responding by asking two very basic questions: 'What do you mean by asphyxiated?' and 'How did he stop breathing?'" Kerik said. "And they failed to do that.
"It's complete incompetence," he said. "And it points to the overarching story of this case: They had a crime theory to target Eddie Gallagher for the murder, and they didn't want the truth — they just asked questions related to Eddie Gallagher."
Kerik credited the defense team with finally uncovering the real story: "Had it not been for Timothy Parlatore and Marc Mukasy, this never would have come up in court."
According to some reports, Trump is considering a pardon for Gallagher, but wants to wait to see if he is convicted.
In March, Trump tweeted: "In honor of his past service to our country, Navy Seal #EddieGallagher will soon be moved to less restrictive confinement while he awaits his day in court."
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