Slatten Retrial Recap: Weeks 4 & 5

This combined update for weeks 4 & 5 features a day-by-day breakdown that highlights key witness testimony and legal filings. Recent news articles covering the case are also linked below.

Week 6, which begins Monday, July 23, 2018, will be a short week, with no trial on Thursday, July 26, or Friday, July 27. As the government's case is winding down, our best estimate is that Nick's defense case will begin in early-August, likely the week of August 6th, but possibly as early as August 2nd. Thank you to everyone who is keeping Nick and his family in your thoughts and prayers as Nick fights for freedom--and to expose government misconduct and bad faith that will hopefully not only set him free but help bring home his wrongly convicted teammates, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, and Dustin Heard. #KeepTheFaith

Week 4

Monday, July 9

  • Monem’s cross-examination continued

    • Monem (an Iraqi Police Officer) testified that he does not recall giving any statements regarding the White Kia to any reporters at any time. (There is contradictory evidence that Monem, in fact, did speak to reporters, offering versions of events that differ from his court testimony.) 

    • He stated that his Victim Impact Statement (which Monem submitted after the 2014 trial) was an accurate narrative of what happened. Then, he proceeded to contest the English translation of his Victim Impact Statement, stating “I was expressing feelings; it was not to recount actual facts and events. And the title of this document, or this letter, is to describe the emotional impact after the incident.”

    • Upon more cross-examination and the examination of prior testimony, Monem reiterated a key piece of evidence favorable to Nick: “that there was firing, . . . coming from the turrets, and not from the holes or the windows that are in the vehicles.” Monem has always been a favorable witness for Nick, as he has consistently testified that the first shots came from the turret (not Nick's position). However, his constantly changing story about the event as a whole--including the Victim Impact Statement he submitted following the 2014 trial--casts major doubt on key parts of his prior testimony that was used to wrongly convict Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty, and Paul Slough. To read more about this issue, visit our Perjured Testimony page. 

  • Matthew Murphy’s direct examination begins

    • States white Kia was being pushed by Iraqi Police Officers.

    • Saw Slough fire into white Kia.

    • Believes the damage to the command vehicle is actually impacts from gunfire vs shrapnel.

  •  JUDGE'S ORDER to seal juror questionnaires: Read it HERE.


Tuesday July 10

  • Matthew Murphy's testimony concludes.
    • Murphy (who was not in Nick's vehicle) is the government's "ear" witness to the (false) allegation that Nick shot first.
    • Murphy originally claimed that the first sounds he heard were pen flares, but he has changed his testimony over time to fit the government's false narrative. In 2014, Murphy played a key role in wrongly convicting Nick for shots that simply were not Nick's and disparaged Nick's character (along with the characters of Paul Slough and Evan Liberty). 
    • Murphy testified that it would have been easy to shoot the Kia with an M-4 (which is in direct contradiction to the government's false narrative that only Nick's weapon (an SR-25) could have made that shot).
    • During his trial testimony, Murphy acknowledged that he has only heard an SR-25 (Nick's weapon type) fired a few times in his life.
    • Murphy was belligerent with defense counsel, and those who were present in the courtroom stated, in their observation, that the jury did not take kindly to Murphy's behavior.

Wednesday, July 11

  • Testimony of Abdulrahman (stationed at PUK--Patriotic Union of Kurdistan--Observation Post, No. 8, from which he could see portions of Nisur Square).
    • Stated there were no vehicles between the White Kia and the Raven 23 convoy.
    • Stated that traffic was stopped and shooting did not begin until after he heard a woman screaming and saw the white Kia start moving.
    • There was some confusion in his testimony as to whether an Iraqi police officer that he said he saw approach the vehicle was motioning the Kia forward.
  • David Farrington (DOS) testifies

    • Took photographs of the scene on his personal camera & put items from the scene in his pocket.

  • Scott Patterson (FBI) direct examination

    • Testified regarding Jello Mold Ballistic Research he performed (exactly what it sounds like: firing various weapons into Jello).

Thursday, July 12

  • Continuation of Patterson’s direct examination and cross examination

    • Patterson reveals that during ballistic testing for the government he did not know the heights of the portholes in the bear cat nor the height of the turret gunner positions. (This is a critical oversight/admission because a defense expert (if allowed to testify) will opine that the bullet hole in the Kia's headrest that the government (falsely) argues was fired from Nick's weapon (although even the government's own tests do not confirm this) could not have been fired from Nick's position and, instead, came from a turret gunner.)

  • Government expert witnesses testify that there was paint transfer between the white Kia and VW Box Truck.

Week 5

Monday, July 16

  • Eric Benn (DOD) testifies
    • Acknowledges that the government once had--but allowed to be destroyed--drone footage taken immediately after the incident (including when Raven 22 was in the circle: numerous witnesses have testified that the Iraqis began cleansing the scene immediately after the incident).
    • The government has introduced satellite stills of Nisur Square taken at 12:06 p.m. (before the firefight) and images and short snippets of video pulled from drone footage from approximately 12:33-12:43 p.m.  
    • Although it has always been suspected that the drone filmed the entire event, the government has not admitted to having continuous drone footage at any point prior to 12:33 p.m. (The firefight occurred at some point during the conveniently missing 27 minutes from the satellite still to when the government has represented that the drone first started filming.)
  • Jonathan Webb (Blackwater armor) testifies
    • Issued Nick an SR-25 on 7/3/07 that was turned in on 10/02/07.
    • Testified it would have been his habit to function check the SR-25 when it was turned in (This is important because the government--in an effort to make Nick look bad that has no relevance to any legal issue in the case--has (falsely) alleged that Nick manipulated the trigger mechanism to make the trigger easier to pull.)
    • Testified that Nick's SR-25 was stored with numerous other weapons, which were piled everywhere, including on top of each other.

Tuesday, July 17

  • Prior testimony of Galaf (Iraqi Police Officer) read into record
    • Galaf was a traffic officer in Nisur Square and was facing the convoy when the shooting started.
    • He saw the man in the third turret (Paul Slough) fire the first shots at the white Kia.
    • He is 100% certain. 
  • Jimmy Watson (Raven 23) takes stand, and his testimony spans two days (see 7/18 for key notes).

Wednesday, July 18

  • Jimmy Watson testifies
    • Described Nick as "very dedicated" and a "very, very friendly guy."
    • Brought home for the jury in a way that no witness ever has (including in the 2014 trial) what operating in a war zone is really like. (Court attendees reported that some of the jurors were crying.)
    • Testified to being on Tramadol and Oxycodone and being in a lot of pain when he testified for the first time before the grand jury in 2013. (In 2013, prior to his grand jury testimony, Watson testified that he suffered an arterial gas embolism from a diving accident while he was in the Navy Seals.) 
    • Testified that he has had a "horrific time" over the last 6-10 years and could have made mistakes regarding the sequence of events of who fired their weapon when, both in the 2013 grand jury and during the 2014 trial. He confirmed that, even in 2013, he tried to make clear when he testified before the grand jury (a proceeding in which defense counsel is NOT present) that he might not recall everything correctly.
    • Testified to hearing "Pop. Pop. Pop, somewhere outside the vehicle."  He said he was "looking at a map, and then explosion and gunfire, and just, like, gunfire everywhere."
    • Confirmed that, during the grand jury, he testified he heard, "Pop, pop, pop; radio call from [another team member in the fourth vehicle]; some kind of small arms fire; contact. Contact. Contact; from Mr. Slatten, two fires from him."
    • Does not recall whether Nick or the turret gunners shot first and sees no reason why Nick would shoot at the white Kia, never saw Nick shoot at the Kia, and doesn't know when Nick shot.
    • Testified Nick shot twice "in between all of the gunfire," just "twice during the melee." (This is key testimony because, even though Watson has always said he heard other pops before he heard Nick fire his weapon (which defeats the government's claim that Nick was the first person to shoot in the square), the government has consistently misrepresented that Watson testified that Nick shot first.)

Thursday, July 19

  • Brandon Giroux (FBI until 2009) testifies
    • Forensic firearm and tool mark examiner.
    • While with the FBI examined two tires and a radiator he was told were connected to the Nisur Square incident.
    • Because radiator had been repaired he could not make any conclusions as to what caused the hole.
    • Found some fragments in the tires but could not offer an opinion as to how many firefights had occurred while those tires were on the vehicle or when the fragments may have gotten into the tires.
    • On cross-examination, the defense made it clear that they would be recalling Mr. Giroux during its case-in-chief, as there are many other issues the defense has to address with him.
  • Charles Gehrsitz (gunner in Chalk 1, Blackwater Helicopter)
    • Chalk 1 made a few quick passes over Nisur Square on September 16, 2007.
    • Confirmed he previously testified before the grand jury in 2008 to receiving a call that Raven 23 was in Nisur Square and had encountered a possible VBIED and was receiving small arms fire.
    • Testified that insurgents typically try to hide so as not to be identified by helicopters flying overhead, so that a threat may be present on the ground but unidentifiable from the air.
    • Saw one of the Raven 23 vehicles in the shop after the incident, and it had impacts on the side that appeared to be from small arms fire, not shrapnel. 

Recent News Articles

New trial underway for Slatten who was Blackwater guard from Sparta

The case against Blackwater

Special thanks to Rima Austin and J.M. Phelps for their dedication to covering this important case.