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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, October 3, 2005

Schofield soldier filing appeal

By Peter Boylan
Advertiser Staff Writer

The voluntary manslaughter conviction of a Schofield Barracks soldier should be set aside because it was based on tainted testimony, his lawyer said.

Virginia-based attorney Charles Gittins said a "miscarriage of justice" led the Army to convict Pfc. Edward L. Richmond Jr. in August 2004. Richmond shot Muhamad Husain Kadir in the back of the head while another soldier struggled to handcuff the Iraqi man, a cowherd, on Feb. 28, 2004, the Army said.

Gittins alleged the government's key witness, Sgt. Jeffrey Waruch, had reason to help the government's case because at the time he testified against Richmond, Waruch was being investigated in the Feb. 18, 2004, shooting death of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl.

The girl's mother and sister also were shot during that incident.

"His testimony was critical because he was the only guy (out in the field with Richmond). That sergeant had every reason to want the government to like his testimony (because of the Feb. 18 incident)," Gittins said last week by phone from Barksdale Air Force base in Louisiana. "He knew he needed to help the prosecution of Richmond and to the extent that the military judge prevented the defense from asking why he might want to curry favor with the prosecution, that is the miscarriage of justice."

After reading the trial minutes, Gittins said the judge's decision to bar Richmond's defense team from specifically asking Waruch about the Feb. 18 shooting seriously hurt their chances because they weren't allowed to question his credibility. Gittins said he is preparing to file an appeal. The Feb. 18, 2004, incident involving Waruch is the subject of a felony investigation by Army investigators.

A message left with the Army's U.S. Central Command public affairs was not returned. Questions about the investigation into the shooting of the 14-year-old girl are being handled by Centcom, a Schofield public information officer said.

Richmond was dishonorably discharged from the Army last year and is serving a three-year prison sentence at a military stockade in Fort Sill, Okla. During his trial the defense argued that Richmond was trying to protect Waruch and that he was ordered to "shoot anyone that tries to run." Richmond testified that he did not see Kadir handcuffed and that he shot him after he lunged at Waruch.

In May, the Army confirmed that investigators are looking into the Feb. 18, 2004, incident in which 14-year-old Intisar Saleh was shot along with her sister and mother as they fled the scene of a roadside bomb attack on a U.S. convoy.

Saleh's mother, Shaha, lost a leg in the shooting, and her 15-year-old sister, Samira, was shot through the thigh. Intisar died from gunshot wounds to the head and stomach.

Waruch and Sgt. Steven Sands of the 1-27 Infantry Battalion, 25th Infantry Division (Light), have been named as the gunmen in the initial inquiry, according to the documents produced by the investigation.

Reach Peter Boylan at pboylan@honoluluadvertiser.com.