BAGHDAD – A military panel acquitted U.S. Army Spc. Jorge Sandoval of two counts of murder Friday, apparently swayed by testimony from fellow Army snipers that two Iraqi men were killed on orders from a higher-ranking soldier.
Sandoval was convicted of a less serious charge of planting detonation wire on one of the bodies to make it look like the victim was an insurgent. As a result, he still could face five years in prison. The seven-member jury deliberated less than two hours in clearing him of all but one charge.
Sandoval, 22, of Laredo, Texas, had faced five charges in the deaths of the two unidentified Iraqi men. In dramatic testimony during the two-day court-martial, Sandoval’s colleagues testified they were following orders when they shot the men during two incidents, on April 27 and May 11.