FORT HOOD, Texas – Jury selection began Monday in a court-martial for an Army sergeant accused of killing a severely wounded, crying and unarmed Iraqi insurgent last summer.
Sgt. Leonardo Trevino, of San Antonio, faces up to life in a military prison and a discharge if convicted on premeditated murder and other charges in connection with events one night in June in Muqdadiyah, Iraq.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys questioned military members during proceedings at Fort Hood, where Trevino is a 1st Cavalry Division soldier. The final jury panel must have at least five members, with at least one-third of them from the enlisted ranks.
Prosecutors focused on whether potential jurors agreed that the rules of engagement in war had to be followed, even for insurgents. Defense questions centered on whether jurors had heard about the case.
Trevino is accused of shooting the Iraqi twice: in the abdomen, a nonfatal wound, and then in the head, fatally, after ordering an Army medic to suffocate him. Trevino also is accused of lying to his superior, telling a soldier to drop a gun by the Iraqi's body and instructing troops to say the man was armed.
The name of the Iraqi was never known, prosecutors said.
Trevino's attorney Richard V. Stevens declined to comment Monday. He previously said witnesses lack credibility and are holding grudges against their squad leader because Trevino disciplined them when they made mistakes.
Military prosecutors declined to comment before the trial. But at a December hearing, a prosecutor said Trevino went to great lengths to kill the Iraqi and told fellow soldiers, "I tried to kill this guy; he just wouldn't die."
Trevino's trial is expected to last a week.
In two separate military trials last month, Trevino's two co-defendants were acquitted on charges stemming from the incident.