SAN DIEGO -- A Navy SEAL testifying in the case of Chief Edward Gallagher, who is accused of several war crimes including murdering a wounded ISIS fighter and shooting civilians, says it was he, not Gallagher, who killed the ISIS teen.
The SEAL, Special Warfare Operator Corey Scott, reportedly testified under an immunity agreement. He claimed that while Gallagher stabbed the fighter, he covered the teen's breathing tube, asphyxiating the teen.
Scott said he held down the boy's breathing tube because he did not want him to suffer or be tortured by Iraqis.
The U-T's Andrew Dyer broke the news on Twitter:
Prosecutors later asked Scott why he never clarified the cause of death in previous interviews and accused him of lying to protect Gallagher, Dyer reports.
The news comes after another SEAL testified Wednesday that he witnessed Gallagher murdering the prisoner.
"I saw him stab the prisoner in the side of the neck," claimed Chief Craig Miller, a Navy SEAL who served with Gallagher in Iraq. "It just came out of his neck. The blood just came out."
Gallagher, who faces life in prison if convicted of murdering the teen in May 2017, is also accused of shooting an elderly man and a young girl on separate occasions later that summer, as the civilians were walking along the Tigris River. The prosecutor described what he alleged was Gallagher's propensity for firing on civilians, which led other snipers to begin firing warning shots "to protect civilians from their own chief."
The highly decorated veteran is also accused of posing with the teen's body in a photograph while he and other SEALs held a reenlistment ceremony. Navy prosecutors estimate that the ISIS fighter was about 15 years old.
Prosecutors also allege that Gallagher, 40, tried to bribe fellow SEALs not to talk about the incident to NCIS investigators.
Gallagher has denied all wrongdoing. In opening statements for the SEAL's trial, lawyers told radically different stories.
His defense attorney said the prosecution's witnesses invented the allegations to get back at their commanding officer for bringing them closer to the line of fire than they wanted.
Prosecutors said Gallagher murdered the ISIS teen and fired on numerous Iraqi civilians, then intimidated and threatened fellow members of the elite force to prevent them from reporting him.
The trial has been dogged by allegations of prosecutorial misconduct, with the trial judge finding that Navy prosecutors used tracking software to spy on the defense team's email accounts.
The judge, Capt. Aaron Rugh, removed Cmdr. Chris Czaplak from the case just before the trial was set to begin, ruling the prosecution sent emails to the defense and a Navy Times reporter that were embedded with code that would track the recipients' email activity.
The judge also ordered that Gallagher be released from custody due to violations of his Fourth and Sixth Amendment rights and reduced the maximum possible sentence of life without parole to life with the possibility of parole.
Gallagher's defense team unsuccessfully sought to have the case thrown out following the email allegations.