Slatten Retrial Recap: Week 6

This update features a day-by-day breakdown that highlights key witness testimony. Key legal filings from week 6 are also linked below, followed by recent news coverage and a special thank you to our Free Raven 23 supporters.

In week 6, court was held only Monday - Wednesday. Today began week 7, and the government is expected to rest its case this week. Nick will then present his defense case, which is expected to be much shorter (one to two weeks). If all goes as expected, the case should be submitted to the jury no later than the week of August 13th, but possibly even the week of August 6th (i.e., NEXT week). Thank you for your continued support and prayers as Nick fights for freedom and to expose government misconduct and bad faith that will hopefully help Evan Liberty, Paul Slough, and Dustin Heard in their fight for freedom.

Monday, July 23

  • Juan Mendoza (Blackwater TOC Center)
    • Heard and kept log of real-time reports of Raven 23 receiving incoming fire from multiple insurgents on September 16, 2007.
    • Was directed by his boss at Blackwater (Tony Sanganetti) not to include the stand-down order that was given to Jimmy Watson in the TOC log and not to mention it to the FBI when he was interviewed. (There is absolutely no evidence that anyone besides Watson knew of the order for Raven 23 not to leave the Green Zone. While not relevant at all to Nick's first-degree murder charge, the judge is allowing evidence like this to come in, but he did instruct the jury that they cannot consider it for any purpose other than assessing the completeness of the TOC log.)
    • Mendoza approached the FBI on his own because he thought it was wrong to omit the stand-down order from the TOC log, but he also testified that someone else at Blackwater had otherwise documented the stand-down order.
    • Mendoza's actions in wanting to ensure that the log was complete seems to give everything else in the log that is relevant to what actually happened out there that day (e.g., the documentation of real-time reports of incoming fire) more credibility. Mendoza specifically testified, "Everything in this log is accurate. What's omitted was the portion that the team [Raven 23] was told not to leave [the Green Zone]." Ultimately, the jury will decide.
  • Jeremy Ridgeway
    • Raven 23 team member who took a plea deal after admitting he committed numerous crimes on September 16, 2007 (for which he was sentenced to 1 year and 1 day), and is on supervised release until August 25, 2018.
    •  Ridgeway, also, admitted that he lied on his resume to Blackwater about the amount of times he had done personal security details while enlisted in the Army, among other things. He was actually diagnosed with PTSD in 2005 and did not disclose that to Blackwater. He also admitted to taking prescription medications while serving that he did not have a prescription to take and that he acquired from other countries.
    • The defense made clear on cross-examination that Ridgeway gave numerous statements that Raven 23 received incoming fire and only changed his story to say that there was no incoming fire when he received a plea deal.
    • Ridgeway admitted that he was told to surrender in Washington D.C. and that the F.B.I. dangled handcuffs in front of him. (This is important because Ridgeway's "arrest" in D.C. is a key component of the government's argument that venue is proper in D.C.)
    • Ridgeway testified to seeing a white vehicle approaching the convoy and to seeing Paul Slough firing at the vehicle, which is consistent with Paul's statement. Ridgeway, also, testifies to firing at the white Kia and that he did not see nor hear Nick Slatten fire. 

Tuesday, July 24

  • Edward Randall
    • Raven 23 team member (driver of the follow vehicle) on September 16, 2007.
    • Randall's area of responsibility (i.e., where he was looking for 97% of the incident) was North of the circle (almost all of the action was to the South).
    • On one of his glances to the South, Randall saw incoming fire impacting the command vehicle (which was Nick's vehicle). There were several impacts and they were not all at once, as would be expected if the impacts were caused by shrapnel from a grenade exploding. Randall said that he is sure it was incoming fire and that he saw the damage afterward and it was consistent with numerous other bullet impacts he had seen in the past.
    • Immediately after the incident, Randall inspected the follow vehicle that he was driving, and he observed two bullet strikes on that vehicle that had not been there before.
    • Randall also observed damage to the command vehicle's radiator that was consistent with a bullet impact.
    • At the outset of the incident, Randall testified that he heard an initial shot or shots (he could not remember how many) and looked to the South, but he did not see who fired them or what had been engaged. Shortly later, he glanced back to the South again and saw an Iraqi police officer pushing the white Kia toward the convoy. The Kia had bullet holes in its hood and Randall concluded that the Kia is what had initially been engaged. He testified that the Kia was a threat.
    • The government has always twisted Randall's testimony to say that he identified Nick as the initial shooter because he did not identify Paul. But Randall confirmed that he was not trying to say in prior proceedings that Paul did not fire the first shots, just that he did not see who did, but that it was someone in front of his vehicle (all three of Raven 23's other vehicles were in front of Randall's vehicle). There was also some discrepancy between the weapon type of the possible first shot or shots Randall said he heard, i.e., whether it was an M240 or an M4, and the government is sure to use this testimony to try and convince the jury that Paul did not engage the Kia first with his M4 (although that is the truth of what happened, as we know from Paul's numerous statements). Randall has never testified that the first shot or shots that he heard came from an SR-25 (Nick's weapon).

Wednesday, July 25

  • Thomas O'Connor (FBI)
    • O'Connor's testimony spanned several days of the trial but concluded today.
    • He and his team were tasked with investigating the scene in Nisur Square. They did not arrive in Iraq until 3 weeks after September 16, 2007.
    • He stated that the scene was not secured for the time period between the incident and his arrival.
    • When he and his team went to survey Nisur Square, O'Connor decided they would not document exactly where each shell casing was found. They would only document North, South, East, or West. 

Raven 23 in the News

Evan Liberty's hometown paper, The Rochester Voice, has closely followed the Raven 23 case and has been key in educating the public about the wrongful convictions of Evan, Nick, Dustin, and Paul. Recently, the paper published a new article, the latest of a multi-part series:

Murder retrial outcome may well impact Rochester man's chance at freedom. 

Be sure to click on the links at the bottom of the article to read earlier articles from the series.  Special thanks to Harrison Thorp and The Rochester Voice for keeping this important story on the public's conscience. 

Photo courtesy of the rochester voice

Photo courtesy of the rochester voice

Thank you, Free Raven 23 Supporters!

The entire Free Raven 23 family, and particularly the Slatten family, are overwhelmed with the amount of love and support you have shown during Nick's retrial. From sharing our story to buying and wearing the limited edition Team Slatten support shirt, to keeping us in your thoughts and prayers--and many of you taking time out of your lives to attend Nick's trial in person--we are beyond grateful to everyone who has helped in all these ways and more! Here are just a few of the great pictures we received in the past few days. Please keep them coming!