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A jury found decorated Navy SEAL Edward "Eddie" Gallagher not guilty Tuesday on almost all charges he was facing, including murder and attempted murder, in the killing of a teenage Islamic State member in Iraq.
Gallagher was accused of stabbing to death a 15-year-old ISIS fighter in 2017 and posing with the corpse for photos.
As he awaited the charges to be read, Gallagher, 40, bounced lightly on his feet, appearing nervous, but dissolved into joyful tears once the verdict came through, tightly embracing his wife, Andrea, who has publicly championed him throughout the case as they both cried. Also seated in the gallery were Gallagher's attorneys, brother and parents, all of whom he hugged.
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"I'm happy and I'm thankful," Gallagher told reporters after the verdict as he joked with his legal team that "it's Independence Day," his freedom coming days before the July 4th holiday.
"Suffice to say, huge victory, huge weight off the Gallaghers, huge victory for justice," Gallagher's attorney Marc Mukasey said adding that his client cried "tears of joy, emotion, freedom, absolute euphoria and proud of the process."
“I was feeling like we’re finally vindicated after being terrorized by the government that my husband fought for for 20 years,” Andrea Gallagher said. She also said she intends to "continue to fight for the war heroes of this country" and hopes to see Naval Special Warfare Group 1 Commodore Capt. Matthew D. Rosenbloom resign, among other things.
He faced seven criminal charges in all. Six of the most serious charges included premeditated murder, willfully discharging a firearm to endanger human life, retaliation against members of his platoon for reporting his alleged actions, obstruction of justice and the attempted murders of two noncombatants. On all of those charges, the jury in San Diego found him not guilty.
Jurors did find him guilty of the seventh charge, posing for a photo with a casualty, considered the least egregious of the crimes, which carries a maximum prison sentence of four months.
"We have a sentencing to do, but the maximum sentence of what they’re about to sentence him on is much less than the time that they’ve already had him in the brig," defense attorney Tim Parlatore said. "So he is going home."
Gallagher served nine months in prison awaiting trial but was released ahead of trial proceedings at the end of May as the judge attempted to rectify alleged prosecutorial misconduct which included the unauthorized tracking of the defense's emails.
Nearly a dozen members of Gallagher's platoon testified against him, revealing that nearly all the platoon members posed for photos with the dead prisoner and witnessed Gallagher read his reenlistment oath near the body, actions prosecutors said proved that Gallagher was "proud" of his actions.
Perhaps the biggest bombshell in the case occurred on June 20 when Gallagher's colleague, Special Operator 1st Class Corey Scott, admitted to asphyxiating the ISIS fighter back in 2017, contrary to the testimony of at least seven other SEALs who said Gallagher stabbed the ISIS fighter after medics administered treatment to him, ultimately resulting in the teenager's death.
Gallagher, who served 19 years in the Navy and earned a Bronze Star with V for Valor twice, a Meritorious Unit Commendation and a trio of Navy and Marine Corps Achievement medals, has been publicly championed by his wife and even President Trump, who previously got Gallagher removed from the brig and transferred to better custody conditions at a Navy hospital before trial.
Fox News' Dan Gallo in San Diego and Samuel Chamberlin contributed to this report.