WIESBADEN, Germany — A U.S. Army captain convicted in the shooting death of a wounded Iraqi was dismissed Friday from the armed forces, but the military court did not impose a prison sentence.
Capt. Rogelio “Roger” Maynulet, 30, was convicted Thursday of assault with intent to commit voluntary manslaughter, which carries a 10-year maximum sentence. He argued the killing was “honorable” because he wanted to end the man’s suffering.
Maynulet, who was convicted of a lesser charge than the one he originally faced, assault with the intent to commit murder, said he was sorry to be forced to leave the Army.
“It’s bittersweet,” he said. “I’m happy to have my life back, but I’m being forced out of my family. Still, I’m definitely happy I’m not in confinement.”
Maynulet stood at attention as Lt. Col. Laurence Mixon, the head of the six-member panel hearing his case, announced the sentence. He then embraced his defense lawyers and his wife, who burst into tears.
Prosecutors had sought a three-year prison term for Maynulet in addition to dismissal from the armed forces, arguing that a strong penalty would send a signal to other U.S. soldiers that such behavior would not be tolerated.
“You commit a serious crime, you are out of the Army. This is not what we do here,” prosecutor Maj. John Rothwell said before sentence was passed. “What kind of institution does the U.S. Army become if assault with the intent to commit voluntary manslaughter is an honorable act?”
In an emotional plea to the court for leniency, Maynulet’s mother, Carmen, said she was “very, very proud” of her son.
“Please let my son come home,” the Cuban immigrant said tearfully.
Shooting of injured driver
On May 21, 2004, Maynulet was leading his 1st Armored Division company on a mission near Kufa, south of Baghdad, when it was alerted that a car thought to be carrying a “high-level” target was headed its way.
No details of the mission have been released, but it has been widely reported the company was told radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who led uprisings against U.S.-led forces in Iraq last year, was believed to be in the car.
The company chased the car and fired at it. A passenger who was slightly wounded fled and was later caught. The driver was pulled from the car with serious head injuries and pronounced untreatable by a medic.
Maynulet, praised by his peers during the trial as a dedicated soldier and promising officer, then shot the driver twice. The killing was filmed by a U.S. surveillance aircraft.
Maynulet’s defense attorney, Capt. Will Helixon, called Maynulet an outstanding soldier who started many projects in Iraq and was responsible for the arrest of 1,000 insurgents. He said the conviction was penalty enough.
Col. Michael Ryan, who commanded Maynulet in Bosnia and testified during the trial, took a similar view.
“I think the outcome was the proper outcome, and I was pleased with the sentence,” he told reporters. “If you look at the total event, justice was served on both sides.”
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