A six-man jury found Petty Officer 1st Class Julio Huertas, 29, of Blue Island, Illinois, not guilty of charges of dereliction of duty and attempting to influence the testimony of another service member. The jury spent two hours deliberating the verdict.
“It’s a big weight off my shoulders,” a smiling and composed Huertas said as he left the courthouse at the U.S. military’s Camp Victory on Baghdad’s western outskirts.
“Compared to all the physical activity we go through, this has been mentally more challenging.”
Huertas said he plans now to continue with his military career and “to go home and kiss my wife.”
Huertas was the first of three SEALS to face a court-martial for charges related to the abuse incident and the verdict was a major blow to the government’s case. All three SEALs could have received only a disciplinary reprimand, but insisted on a military trial to clear their names and save their careers.
Shame on the government for even bringing this case to court.