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As brain-injured Terri Schiavo enters her 13th day of starvation in Florida after nearly a decade-long court dispute over her fate, a U.S. Army captain is being court-martialed in Wiesbaden, Germany, and facing 20 years for the mercy killing of a suspected Iraqi terrorist under battlefield conditions.
The tank commander, Capt. Rogelio Maynulet of Chicago, is being tried on a charge of assault with intent to commit murder in the May 21, 2004, mercy killing near Kufa, south of Baghdad.
Defense attorneys at the court-martial maintain that Maynulet, convinced that the man would not live, acted out of mercy. Prosecutors argue he violated military rules of engagement by shooting an Iraqi who was wounded and unarmed.
The medic, Sgt. Thomas Cassady, conceded Monday under questioning by defense attorney Capt. Will Helixon that his failure to treat the man contributed to the shooting.
“You felt guilty, that it was your fault because you didn’t do your job,” Helixon asked. Cassady responded: “That’s correct, sir.”
“You felt you should be the one in trouble,” Helixon said. “Correct,” Cassady replied.
Cassady testified he told Maynulet the man “wasn’t going to make it.”
Cassady said yesterday he failed to treat the man because he “spazzed out” at the sight of his head wound, which he described as the worst he had seen in four years as an Army medic.
Maynulet’s company had been on patrol when it was alerted to a car thought to be carrying a driver for radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and another militiaman loyal to the cleric. They chased the vehicle and fired at it, wounding both the passenger, who fled and was later apprehended, and the driver.
Cassady acknowledged that Maynulet told him to care for the wounded driver.
“You ignored him because you were freaked out, you told him he’s going to die?” defense attorney Helixon asked him. Cassady replied: “Yes, sir, that’s correct, sir.”
The medic said he had spent about one minute with the man and failed to take his pulse or check his breathing all standard practice when examining wounded. Asked why he did not treat him, Cassady said “I spazzed out at that instant.” Maynulet was described yesterday by defense witnesses as “a tremendous soldier” and a man who cared about the Iraqi people.
Ironically, as the court-martial continue today, the story dominating the news in the United States continues to be the “right-to-die” case of Terri Schiavo, now in her 13th day of court-ordered starvation.
In that case, which has been the subject of acts of Congress, U.S. and Florida Supreme Court actions, new laws by the Florida legislature and rulings by more than a dozen judges, her estranged husband, Michael Schiavo contends his wife suffered a heart attack triggered by a chemical imbalance brought on by an eating disorder. Her parents, however, Bob and Mary Schindler, suspect oxygen was cut off to the brain because her husband tried to strangle her.
Maynulet, 30, was characterized by one of his superiors as one of the “top three” of roughly 37 officers he oversaw at that time, describing him as “a tremendous soldier.”
Col. Bradley W. May told the court in written testimony read aloud yesterday that, while he agreed in principle against firing on the wounded, each case must be considered individually.
“To make that determination, we have to look at all the facts,” May said in his statement. “It may be that some make it not as easy to determine as we would all like.”
Video from a U.S. drone surveillance aircraft showed the outline of a soldier in a helmet and battle gear, identified by a witness as Maynulet, aiming a weapon at an Iraqi man lying on the ground, followed by a flash.
The man on the ground appeared to be waving his right arm before the shot. Several seconds later, he appeared to twitch as though hit again.
Defense attorneys maintain that Maynulet, convinced the man would not live, shot him to end his suffering.
In addition, Cassady conceded that he had lied during Maynulet’s Article 32 hearing – the military equivalent of a civilian grand jury investigation – giving testimony about injuries the man had not suffered because he felt guilty about the incident.
In further testimony yesterday, two Iraqis who worked with Maynulet during his deployment to Iraq described him as compassionate and spoke of his helpfulness to civilians and Iraqi soldiers training for the civilian defense corps.
“Capt. Maynulet has compassion toward the Iraqi people,” Maj. Yehay Haider, said in written testimony read before the court. “Capt. Maynulet cares for the Iraqis.”
Such testimony plays an important role in a court-martial, where the six-member panel – the equivalent of a civilian jury – must also weigh whether the actions of the accused damaged the Army’s reputation.
Maynulet’s command was suspended May 25, but he has remained with his Wiesbaden-based unit.
The U.S. military has referred to the Iraqi driver only as an “unidentified paramilitary member,” but relatives named him as Karim Hassan, 36. The family does not dispute that he was working for al-Sadr.
The court-martial is to continue today.
Meanwhile, a pre-trial, or Article 32, hearing next month will determine whether 2nd Lt. Ilario G. Pantano will face a court-martial that could lead to the death penalty. He is accused of killing two suspected Iraqi terrorists who, he says, refused to follow orders after their capture and made threatening moves.
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For backround on the 15-year saga, read “The whole Terri Schiavo story.”
Editor’s note: WorldNetDaily has been reporting on the Terri Schiavo story since 2002 – far longer than most other national news organization – and exposing the many troubling, scandalous, and possibly criminal, aspects of the case that to this day rarely surface in news reports. Read WorldNetDaily’s unparalleled, in-depth coverage of the life-and-death fight over Terri Schiavo, including over 150 original stories and columns.
Court documents and other information are posted on the Schindler family website.
Links to all “Terri briefs” regarding the governor’s defense of Terri’s Law are on the Florida Supreme Court website, public information.