FORT HOOD, Texas – After deliberating nearly 10 hours over two days, jurors asked for more evidence in the military trial of an Army platoon sergeant charged in the drowning death of an Iraqi civilian.
The six-man jury of Army officers and enlisted members wanted the translation of voices heard on a funeral videotape showing a corpse purported to be the 19-year-old drowning victim. The judge then instructed an Army translator to review the tape and testify.
The translator said no one on the tape mentioned a name. Others on the 2-minute tape said "hurry, hurry" in Arabic and instructed the person to record shots of the man's eyes, teeth, mouth and hands.
Jurors resumed deliberating after hearing the translation.
The alleged drowning victim's family gave the tape to Army investigators, who never saw the body or had it exhumed because of security concerns, according to testimony.
Perkins, 33, is charged in connection with a January 2004 incident near Samarra, Iraq, when two Iraqi curfew violators were forced into the cold Tigris River (search) at gunpoint by U.S. soldiers.
Marwan Hassoun, who survived, insists his cousin was swept downstream by strong current and that his body was found 12 days later. The defense maintains Zaidoun Hassoun is still alive.
A pathologist who reviewed the videotape said the corpse did not show signs of being in water for nearly two weeks.
Perkins is charged with involuntary manslaughter in Zaidoun Hassoun's death, but jurors can consider lesser charges of negligent homicide or assault consummated by battery. His sentence if convicted ranges from no punishment to 26 years.
Perkins also is charged with aggravated assault in connection with Marwan Hassoun, and in connection with a separate incident in December 2003 near Balad when another Iraqi was thrown into the river.
Several soldiers testified they saw two Iraqi men on the river bank after the incident, and others said the river was tranquil when the men were forced to jump off a 10-foot (3-meter) ledge.
Defense attorney Capt. Josh Norris said the soldiers were trying to find non-lethal ways to deter crime and establish respect in the hostile area.
Soldiers testifying for the prosecution and defense during the four-day trial said they never heard Perkins order the Iraqis into the river and that he stayed in his vehicle that night.
The soldiers said the orders came from Army 1st Lt. Jack Saville, the platoon leader, who is to be tried in March on the same charges as Perkins — as well as a conspiracy charge. Saville faces up to 29 years in prison if convicted.