Defense attacks NCIS investigator at Navy SEAL’s war crimes trial

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SAN DIEGO – The prosecution wrapped up its case against Chief Edward Gallagher Tuesday after calling its final two witnesses to the stand.

The first witness, Naval Criminal Investigative Service Special Agent Joseph Warpinski, was the original investigator to handle the case against Gallagher. In cross examination, attorneys for Gallagher claimed Warpinski didn’t have enough evidence to pursue a case from the very beginning. The defense argued that NCIS agents never went to the location where a wounded ISIS prisoner died, couldn’t confirm the cause of his death, and didn’t even have evidence of a dead body.  Gallagher’s attorneys argued that NCIS investigators had no concrete proof that Gallagher committed murder. Instead, they built their entire case only on witness testimony.

The defense said that Warpinski was 34  years old and had only been with NCIS for a little over two years when he was assigned to the Gallagher case. They said the young investigator mishandled the case from the very beginning. The defense said Warpinski decided Gallagher was guilty after interviewing just one SEAL in Gallagher’s platoon. They said he told one of the SEALS he “already had a take on the investigation” and the case appeared to be “black and white.” Warpinski  told other SEALs he hoped to build a “slam-dunk case” against Gallagher, according to his defense team.

A defense lawyer questioned Warpinski directly Tuesday, asking him if it was bad practice to make such statements. Warpinski replied, “You could say that.”

After prosecutors rested their case Tuesday, Gallagher’s lawyers asked the judge to dismiss the case altogether, arguing the burden of proof  hadn’t been met against their client. The judge, however, denied the request.

Court is expected to resume Wednesday.

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