Army Sniper Convicted

Sniper Gets 10 Years for Killing Iraqi

A military jury on Feb. 10 convicted an Army sniper of murder and sentenced him to 10 years in prison for killing an Iraqi civilian who wandered into the hiding place where six Soldiers were sleeping.

Sgt. Evan Vela, 24, was found guilty of murder without premeditation, of aiding and abetting in planting an AK-47 on the dead man’s body and of lying to military investigators about the shooting. He had faced a possible life sentence.

Without knowing much more about this than is presented in this article, I want to say that I fully support holding our troops to justice. I do believe that conditions and the nature of their job needs to be taken into consideration, and that we need to be careful that we don’t JAG our troops into not being able to perform their mission. But we also need to make sure that we remain the good guys.

War is an ugly business, and it requires the use of ugly methods. But there are lines that we should not cross, and if some of our troops cross them they should be punished accordingly.

It also sounds, from this story, that the unit was under intense pressure from higher up to get more kills and that this pressure may have contributed to the incident. It’s difficult for me to say, never having been in that sort of situation before, but I don’t think that that can be used as any kind of excuse. Though taking a look at those higher up may be in order.

By and large, I believe that the military legal system works. I have more faith in it than I do in the civilian courts.


  1. I read a story on this yesterday. That version of events was the victim WAS NOT shot by Vela as a targeted sniper kill. Vela and his spotter were in their hide (on top of or in some building if I remember right), when the vic came on them by accident, startling them; with Vela capping the guy with his sidearm. Vela and his spotter then participated in planting evidence and lying about what happened in the subsequent investigation. Obviously, I don’t know anymore about what happened or in what order, than anyone else. I can say that if someone surprised me during a combat op, in a close situation; I might very well react first, and be sorry later. Vela and his spotter should not have planted evidence and lied about what happened during the investigation though. I just don’t think murder 2 was warranted in this situation (as it was described in the story I read).

  2. Screw that. The absolute worst penalty a sailor/soldier/marine should get for killing a civilian is being fired, maybe even dishonorably discharged. Our guys in the field aren’t killing people because it’s fun to do so. The benefit of doubt should always be given to anyone in the military.

  3. From what I have read about this story – if they would not of lied and tried to do a cover up they would of been ok. Worst case? reassignment, loss of ranks or a bad conduct discharge…something along those line. Its the lying and the cover up that kills you every time, be you Nixon or be you a soldier.

  4. The soldiers should have reported the incident honestly and not tried to cover it up. Mistakes happen in war and they should have faced discipline for what happened as a mistake if it had been properly reported. The cover-up was criminal and the level of punishment is warranted.