Army Sniper Convicted of Killing Unarmed Iraqi Civilian, Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison

BAGHDAD  —  A U.S. Army sniper convicted of killing an unarmed Iraqi civilian and planting evidence on his body was sentenced Sunday to 10 years in prison.

Sgt. Evan Vela faced a possible life sentence. Earlier Sunday, jurors found him guilty of murder without premeditation in the May 11 killing of an Iraqi man south of Baghdad.

Vela was also sentenced to forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and will receive a dishonorable discharge. His case is automatically referred to a military appeals court.

He will be transferred to a U.S. military base in Kuwait, where he will remain until the military decides on a permanent incarceration site in the United States.

Vela had previously been charged with premeditated murder, but that charge was changed during his court-martial in Baghdad. He was also found guilty of making a false official statement and of conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline.

The defendant showed no emotion as the verdict was read. Two of his lawyers leaned over and gave him a light hug over the shoulders before leading him out of the courtroom on a U.S. military base in Baghdad

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