Jordanian soldier gets life term for killing 3 US troops

Published: Monday, July 17, 2017 @ 4:55 AM
Updated: Monday, July 17, 2017 @ 4:55 AM

A Jordanian soldier was sentenced Monday to life in prison after being convicted of killing three U.S. military trainers last year, but some said questions lingered about his motive for the shooting at a Jordanian air base.

Jordan has ruled out terrorism in the November shooting in which the convoy of the U.S. Army Green Berets came under fire at the base entrance.

The defendant has said he felt no animosity toward Americans and opened fire because he believed the base was coming under attack.

However, relatives of the slain U.S. troops have described security camera footage that they say shows him shooting for six minutes, reloading and aiming at the Americans, even as they identify themselves as friendly forces.

After a "not guilty" plea, the Jordanian soldier, 1st Sgt. Marik al-Tuwayha, was tried by a military court in Jordan's capital of Amman for the killings of Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Lewellen, 27, of Kirksville, Missouri; Staff Sgt. Kevin J. McEnroe, 30, of Tucson, Arizona; and Staff Sgt. James F. Moriarty, 27, of Kerrville, Texas.

During the monthlong trial, he watched the proceedings silently while standing in a cage in the courtroom.

He did not react Monday when the judge announced the verdict and the maximum possible sentence, life in prison with hard labor. When he was led out of the cage, he said: "I have all the respect for the king, but I was doing my job."

Relatives of two of the U.S. soldiers sat quietly as the judge read the ruling.

Charles Lewellen, 53, whose son was killed, later told The Associated Press that the verdict "won't take the pain away," but that it proved "what we have been saying all along ... that he murdered our sons."

Some of the relatives criticized Jordan's handling of the case and said the defendant should have received the death penalty. Jordan allows the death penalty, but it is usually handed down in terrorism cases or in a murder coupled with another crime.

The Americans were killed Nov. 4, as their convoy waited at the gate to the al-Jafr base in southern Jordan. Jordan initially said the Americans triggered the shooting by disobeying entry rules, a claim that was later withdrawn.

The trial "confirmed that the deceased U.S. service members followed all established procedures when accessing the base the day of the incident, as we have noted before," the U.S. Embassy in Jordan said. "We are reassured to see the perpetrator brought to justice."

Jordan is a member of a U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State group extremists in neighboring Syria and Iraq. Jordan hosts troops, including trainers, from the U.S. and other countries as part of the anti-IS battle.

"We are pleased to see that the perpetrators have been brought to justice," said U.S. Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman. He said the U.S. respects Jordan's military process and praised Jordan for adhering to its own laws in resolving the case expeditiously.

Davis wouldn't comment on possible motives for the killing.

At the trial, al-Tuwayha and some of the gate guards testified they heard what might have been a pistol shot coming from the direction of the U.S. convoy. Al-Tuwayha said he opened fire because he feared the base was under attack. Other guards said they held their fire because they couldn't determine the source of the sound.

Al-Tuwayha has said he had "no intention of killing anyone" and felt no resentment toward Americans.

According to the surveillance video described by the relatives, Lewellen and McEnroe were the first to be hit by gunfire. Moriarty and another soldier jumped out of their cars to take cover and returned fire from their pistols, according to the descriptions of the video. They yelled that they were friendly forces, the relatives said.

The defendant kept shooting, they said. He was seriously wounded in the exchange.

The video was shown to the family by U.S. law enforcement, but has not been released to the public.

Some of the relatives have questioned why the video was not screened at the trial and why the court did not ask a surviving U.S. soldier to testify, despite what they said was his willingness to do so.

Moriarty's father, Jim, wrote in a letter Monday to the Jordanian Embassy in the U.S. that the "successful prosecution" was a "good first step, but it is only the first step."

In the letter, a copy of which was given to the AP, Moriarty listed several demands to Jordan. These included allowing the defendant to be re-interviewed by the FBI about his motive and releasing the security video to the families. Moriarty, a lawyer, said the video had been entered into evidence at the trial.

Cynthia Lewellen, 53, the mother of Matthew Lewellen, expressed sympathy for all those affected by the shooting, including the family of the defendant.

"In this verdict, nobody comes out happy," she said. "I mean for us as losing our sons and knowing the man that killed him will spend 20 years in prison, but also for his family that because of his actions ... lost a father, a husband, a provider."

In Jordan, life in prison can mean 20 years, with time off for good behavior.

Defense lawyer Subhi al-Mawas said he would appeal Monday's court ruling.

Earlier this year, a Jordanian soldier who killed seven Israeli schoolgirls in a 1997 shooting rampage was released after 20 years.

Hopping wallaby stops traffic on Australian highway

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 10:34 AM

WATCH: Police Chase Hopping Suspect

A wallaby hopping down a highway is not something you see everyday, but that’s exactly what happened Tuesday in Sydney, Australia.

The marsupial found its way onto the road, making drivers wonder what they were seeing as they crossed the Sydney Harbor Bridge, ABC News in Australia reported.

Some described the animal as a kangaroo, including traffic controllers with the Transport Management Center.

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“Traffic controllers had quite a surprise early this morning when we saw a kangaroo making its way down lane No. 8 of Sydney Harbour Bridge, coming from the north side,” Dave Wright told ABC News.

“It basically continued to hop, making its way from lane 8 all the way over to lane 1 ... down the Cahill Expressway and down to Macquarie Street,” Wright said.

Officers were able to corner the animal which turned out to be a male adult swamp wallaby. It was taken to a vet who checked it out. It had a few scratches on its face and hind legs, but had no major injuries, 9 News reported.

Some believe the wallaby may have come from a nearby golf course, but groundskeepers and golfers said they’ve never seen a wallaby or kangaroo on the course before, 9 News reported.

Wallabies at Cockle Creek at the overnight camp during The Cadbury Schweppes Mark Webber Challenge November 13, 2003 in Tasmania, Australia.

Reporter ‘attacked’ by lemurs during report

Published: Friday, January 12, 2018 @ 8:33 AM

WATCH: Reporter "Attacked" By Lemurs During Report

A reporter apparently never heard the saying about not working with animals or children, but thank goodness he didn’t, because we wouldn’t have the Friday laughs some may need.

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Alexander Dunlop was supposed to do a quick standup about England’s Banham Zoo’s annual counting of the park’s animals. 

But it didn’t go as planned.

A group of lemurs, called a conspiracy, yes really, a conspiracy of lemurs, had a plan to attack Dunlop, ABC News reported.

Brave lemur fans can have a “lemur encounter” and get up close and personal with the wild animals.

FILE PHOTO: A lemur jumps from a tree in Antananarivo, Madagascar. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)(David Rogers/Getty Images)

Princess Charlotte is learning second language at age of 2

Published: Friday, January 12, 2018 @ 7:35 AM

Fun Facts about Princess Charlotte

Experts say the best time to learn a second language is when you’re young, and apparently Prince William and Duchess Katherine are following suit, allowing Princess Charlotte to start learning Spanish.

It doesn’t hurt that she’s a member of the royal family and her nanny has been working with the little princess.

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Metro reported that Princess Charlotte has been learning Spanish phrases from nanny Maria Teresa Turrion Borrallo. 

And the 2-year-old isn’t alone in expanding her vocabulary. Prince George is said to be able to count to 10 in Spanish, Metro reported

Princess Charlotte recently started full-time nursery school at Willcocks Nursery School in London, the Associated Press reported.

In this handout picture provided by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Britain's Princess Charlotte smiles as she prepares for her first day of nursery at the Willcocks Nursery School, in London, Monday, Jan. 8, 2018. (Duchess of Cambridge via AP)(The Duchess of Cambridge/AP)

She turns 3 in May and is fourth in line to the throne, behind Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince George, the AP reported

Prince George started primary school in September at Thomas’s Battersea, Metro reported.

Experts at Cornell have studied the learning of languages and have found that the earlier children learn a second language, the more likely they will be able to speak like a native speaker.

Related

Must see: Dog interrupts tied soccer match

Published: Friday, December 08, 2017 @ 7:06 AM

A dog runs onto the pitch during the Europa League group L soccer match between Vardar and Rosenborg, at Philip II Arena in Skopje, Macedonia, Thursday Dec. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
Boris Grdanoski/AP
A dog runs onto the pitch during the Europa League group L soccer match between Vardar and Rosenborg, at Philip II Arena in Skopje, Macedonia, Thursday Dec. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)(Boris Grdanoski/AP)

It’s not every day that a tied soccer game gets interrupted by a fan running on the pitch, especially when that fan is a four-footed furry one.

A husky appeared on the field during a match between teams from Macedonia and Norway, Business Insider reported.

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The game was tied 1-1 at the 73rd minute mark when the dog dropped in front of the Macedonian team’s goalkeeper to have its belly rubbed.

Vardar's goalkeeper Filip Gacevski, left, tries to catch a dog that entered the pitch during the Europa League group L soccer match between Vardar and Rosenborg, at Philip II Arena in Skopje, Macedonia, Thursday Dec. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)(Boris Grdanoski/AP)

The entire event was caught on video.

Eventually, security was able to herd the dog to the tunnel so the game could continue and the match ended in a 1-1 tie.

Vardar's goalkeeper Filip Gacevski, left, tries to catch a dog that entered the pitch during the Europa League group L soccer match between Vardar and Rosenborg, at Philip II Arena in Skopje, Macedonia, Thursday Dec. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)(Boris Grdanoski/AP)