Closing arguments are expected to begin Monday in the trial of Chief Special Warfare Operator Eddie Gallagher, a Navy SEAL accused of stabbing an ISIS prisoner to death, among other violations of military law.
Gallagher’s defense team rested its case Friday, two days after it began calling witnesses to refute the narrative put forth by Navy prosecutors who said Gallagher not only killed the young prisoner, but also posed for photos next to his corpse, shot at noncombatants and intimidated other SEALs who might report him. The actions allegedly occurred during his deployment to Mosul, Iraq, in 2017.
Gallagher, a special operations chief, pleaded not guilty to the charges in January. If convicted of murder, he faces life in prison.
The case has caught the eye of President Donald Trump, who has expressed sympathy for Gallagher on Twitter and is reportedly mulling a pardon for the SEAL.
Here’s a breakdown of the cases Navy prosecutors and Gallagher’s defense attorneys have presented over nearly the past two weeks, based on witness testimony.
The prosecution’s case
The prosecution rested its case after calling 14 witnesses in six days, including fellow SEALs who served alongside Gallagher and testified their chief stabbed a young ISIS prisoner and shot at noncombatants, including elderly men and young teenage girls.
SEALs say Gallagher stabbed ISIS prisoner
The stakes are highest for Gallagher when it comes to the accusation that he stabbed a teenage ISIS prisoner, whom one witness described as frail, weak and injured.
Other SEALs who served alongside Gallagher testified they saw Gallagher stab the ISIS fighter. SEAL Special Operations Chief Craig Miller testified he saw Gallagher stab the prisoner “on the right side of his neck, toward the jugular vein.”
A forensic pathologist later testified that the stabbing described by the witnesses “could result in massive hemorrhaging into the chest … or death.”
He conceded on cross-examination he could not determine the actual cause of death – there was no known autopsy – and made his conclusion based on the information and evidence he was provided, including photos and witness testimony.
He posed for pictures with prisoner’s body, witnesses say
Several SEALs testified during the first week they saw Gallagher take pictures with the body. Miller and Officer Thomas MacNeil both admitted to taking a group photo with the body. MacNeil said he didn’t know the circumstances of the prisoner’s death at the time.
Miller realized that was unprofessional, he said, adding he immediately reported the killing to his superior. He testified that Gallagher later asked him, “Who’s not good with it?”
Former SEAL Dylan Dille told the court he saw Gallagher pose for individual and group photos with the body. Dille never posed for the photos because he said he “felt it was irresponsible.”
He allegedly intimidated other SEALs
Following the alleged stabbing, MacNeil said he and others were told to delete the photos. He claimed Gallagher later said, “If you take me down, I’ll take all of you down.”
According to Dille, upon returning to base, Gallagher told him and other SEALs, “I know you’re not alright with what happened, but it’s just an ISIS dirtbag. Next time if I get a prisoner, I’ll do this where you can’t see what happens.”
Witnesses say he shot at noncombatants
Dille also said that during a sniper mission he saw Gallagher shoot at civilians, including an elderly man and two women in hijabs. In the case of the elderly man, Dille said they were in position and saw two men standing on a corner. He heard a rifle shot; one man was hit, struggled, but got away.
Dille testified he heard Gallagher say over the radio, “Oh I thought I missed.”
Dalton Tolbert, another witness, said he fired a warning shot at an old man during a sniper mission with Gallagher. The man ran away, Tolbert said, but fell after another sniper fired. Tolbert claimed he heard a voice that sounded like Gallagher on the radio say, “You guys missed but I got him.”
A third witness said he heard shots fired from Gallagher’s position during another sniper mission. Joshua Vriens said he saw four girls who looked to be between the ages of 12 and 14. After the shot, one girl clutched her stomach and fell down.
All three admitted on cross-examination they did not actually see Gallagher fire the shot. Dille said he based his accusation on the vapor trail that he said emanated from Gallagher’s position.