The verdict is in: the first of the three Navy SEALs to stand trial, Julio Huertas, has been found NOT GUILTY of the charges brought against him: dereliction of duty and impeding an investigation.
Huerta’s verdict was deliberated by a six-man jury, who made the decision based on the fact that they found too many differences between the testimony of Petty Officer 3rd Class Kevin DeMartino and other witnesses who refuted his story.
Ahmed Hashim Abed’s story also failed to convince the jury. He alleged that he was brutally beaten, but photographs of him that were taken days after he said he was attacked showed a cut inside his lip, but no bruising or injuries in other parts of his body; the images were certainly not representative of what should have been his physical condition if he was, indeed, beaten the way he had described it.
Prosecutor Navy Cmdr. Jason Grover pointed to the fact that two of the Blackwater guards who were killed in the Fallujah ambush were former Navy SEALs, which he then presented as a possible motive for the attack. He then called on the jury to hold Huertas responsible for their alleged action as proof of “why we’re better than the terrorists” during his closing argument.
Huertas gave the following statement as he left the courthouse in Camp Victory: “It’s a big weight off my shoulders. Compared to all the physical activity we go through, this has been mentally more challenging.”