WIESBADEN, Germany -- A US Army captain, convicted yesterday in the shooting of a wounded Iraqi, asked for leniency in sentencing from the military jury and said he would continue serving if given the chance.
Captain Rogelio ''Roger" Maynulet, a Chicago native and the son of Cuban immigrants, stood at attention as the head of the jury, Lieutenant Colonel Laurence Mixon, read the verdict of guilty of assault with the intent to commit voluntary manslaughter in the man's death.
Taking the stand in the sentencing hearing after the verdict, Maynulet thanked the six-member jury, which could sentence him to up to 10 years in prison and kick him out of the Army.
The decorated former tank company commander's voice remained strong as he recounted his thoughts before he aimed his gun at a wounded, unarmed Iraqi and shot him in the head on May 21, 2004.
''We're trained, conditioned, to keep a distance," said Maynulet, 30, looking down. ''Maybe my mistake was that I projected myself into that Iraqi. I didn't want to be in his state -- if I were, I would hope that someone would put me out of my misery."
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 what the Army called a ''high-level target" was headed toward them.
It has been widely reported the company was told radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who led uprisings against US-led forces in Iraq last year, was believed to be in the car with a driver.
The company chased the vehicle and fired at it. A passenger who was slightly wounded fled and was later apprehended. The driver was dragged from the car with serious head injuries and pronounced untreatable by Maynulet's medic.
In closing arguments yesterday, prosecutor Major John Rothwell said Maynulet ''played God" when he shot the driver, whom the US military has referred to only as an ''unidentified paramilitary member." But relatives named him as Karim Hassan, 36, and said he worked for Sadr.
The jury is expected to deliver a sentence today.