Thank you for the opportunity to address the court. I grew up in West Texas, where I learned reverence and a respect for authority. Knowing that the origin of your authority as a man of the law is traced back to the biblical roots in the book of Exodus, I believe that our paths crossed due to God’s divine providence.
Though I am certainly not without flaw, I have learned throughout my life that hard work, perseverance and love of God and country are the American way. I intend to hand down these same virtues as an heirloom to my daughter Lily, and God willing, her future siblings.
As you have learned from the letters written to you by my friends, family and colleagues, children hold a special place in my heart and in my life. I have been privileged to help steer friend’s children in the right direction when they’ve struggled, shared my love of working with livestock amongst all creation, and have given my time, money and skills freely to children in need.
Most importantly of course, I have a daughter, Lily, who has had me wrapped around her finger since before she was born. Children are, without a doubt, one of the greatest joys and priorities in my life.
Although there were many unjust and unfounded assertions made by the government, there is one issue from the trial that I cannot stand silently by without correcting. During the government’s rebuttal closing, AUSA Martin accused me of shooting a nine year old boy, named Ali. Although this isn’t the time to argue facts, I do not want you to sentence me under the false impression that I killed that child. As the government knew, Ali was killed by a black tipped bullet consistent with an M240—a belt-fed machine gun. I have never had black tipped ammunition and the government knew for a fact that security contractors were never issued black tipped ammunition. More importantly, though, the government knew that I personally did not fire black-tipped rounds on that day in particular because its own forensic evidence traced casings back to my belt-fed M240 that were not black tipped. Mr. Kinami, I did not—I could not - have killed your son, Ali.
I will one day stand before my final judge as stated in 2 Corinthians book 5 verse 10 to give an account of my life and every shot I’ve taken. I have faith that I will be exonerated both in this life and the next. What sickens me most is that a fellow teammate took innocent lives that day… And worse yet, even though I had no way to know what he was doing or what his intentions were, I was found guilty by association for his crimes.
I’ve spent my entire adult life trying to protect the ideals of my country and my faith. For me, the military was an obvious choice—the chance to fight the good fight. I spent a tour in Bosnia with my unit protecting Muslims from extermination. I went to Iraq as an infantryman with the Texas National Guard, and later as a contractor for Blackwater. I went to protect my countrymen and our allies from an insurgency that would use any tactic, no matter the consequences, to shed American blood.
Unfortunately, despite all of our best efforts, civilian casualties were a daily fact of life in Iraq because those casualties were part of the insurgents’ overall strategy to vilify Coalition Forces. I went because my country needed boots on the ground to fulfill its mission and its promises to the leaders of Iraq.
The senseless violence that I saw in Iraq haunts to me to this day. It was only by the grace of God, and the love and devotion of my wife and family, that I was able to rise above the horrors of war and work at becoming the man I knew I could, and should, be.
This trial was gut-wrenching; the jury’s decision a shock and a crushing injustice. I feel utterly betrayed by the same government that I served honorably.
One of the few silver linings to this ordeal has been reading the letters sent on my behalf for sentencing. It is a rare privilege for a man to see in writing the impact he has had on his loved ones, friends and colleagues. I have been thoroughly humbled and am extremely grateful for their words. They affirm that I have lived a life worthy of your consideration, a life that should be weighed against the jury’s conclusions to determine an appropriate sentence.
I know that the prosecutors have taken away some of your discretion by charging me with a weapons offense that carries a mandatory minimum 30 year sentence. A charge aimed at drug dealers, that was never intended to punish someone for lawfully carrying a weapon in the line of duty.
And for what? Because I carried and used a weapon that was issued to me by the Department of State? A weapon that I needed to do my job, to defend myself and others in the most dangerous place in the world, and that I had no choice but to carry? It’s a perversion of justice, and one the government saw fit to apply only after my refusal of a plea deal with a ten year sentence for crimes I did not commit.
Understanding the limits the government has put on your discretion, I ask the court to consider the full measure of my life, and what transpired during this trial, when you impose your sentence. Thank you.