Defense: Gov't suppressed evidence in Blackwater

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...

15 PHOTOS
Blackwater Case
See Gallery
Defense: Gov't suppressed evidence in Blackwater
US Federal Prosecutors Ken Cole is surrounded by Iraqi security as he arrives for a meeting to discuss the case against the security firm Blackwater at the central police station close to Nussur Square in central Baghdad on December 13, 2008. Three U.S. federal prosecutors met today in Baghdad with the families of victims and wounded from the shooting last September 2007 at Nussur Square by security officers from the US based Blackwater Security Company. Five Blackwater guards were charged on December 08, with the killing 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians and wounding 18 others with gunfire and grenades while traveling in a convoy through a busy Baghdad intersection in September 2007. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
An Iraqi woman whose husband was killed sits with her children listening during a meeting with US Federal Prosecutors to discuss the case against the security firm Blackwater at the central police station close to Nussur Square in central Baghdad on December 13, 2008. Three U.S. federal prosecutors met today in Baghdad with the families of victims and wounded from the shooting last September 2007 at Nussur Square by security officers from the US based Blackwater Security Company. Five Blackwater guards were charged on December 08, with the killing 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians and wounding 18 others with gunfire and grenades while traveling in a convoy through a busy Baghdad intersection in September 2007. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
An Iraqi woman, relative of a victim, sits listening during a meeting with US Federal Prosecutors to discuss the case against the security firm Blackwater at the central police station close to Nussur Square in central Baghdad on December 13, 2008. Three U.S. federal prosecutors met today in Baghdad with the families of victims and wounded from the shooting last September 2007 at Nussur Square by security officers from the US based Blackwater Security Company. Five Blackwater guards were charged on December 08, with the killing 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians and wounding 18 others with gunfire and grenades while traveling in a convoy through a busy Baghdad intersection in September 2007. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
Iraqi injured and relatives of killed Iraqis, all victims of a shooting incident, sits listening during a meeting with US Federal Prosecutors to discuss the case against the security firm Blackwater at the central police station close to Nussur Square in central Baghdad on December 13, 2008. Three U.S. federal prosecutors met today in Baghdad with the families of victims and wounded from the shooting last September 2007 at Nussur Square by security officers from the US based Blackwater Security Company. Five Blackwater guards were charged on December 08, with the killing 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians and wounding 18 others with gunfire and grenades while traveling in a convoy through a busy Baghdad intersection in September 2007. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
An Iraqi victim of a shooting incident holds up a picture of himself, during a meeting with US Federal Prosecutors to discuss the case against the security firm Blackwater at the central police station close to Nussur Square in central Baghdad on December 13, 2008. Three U.S. federal prosecutors met today in Baghdad with the families of victims and wounded from the shooting last September 2007 at Nussur Square by security officers from the US based Blackwater Security Company. Five Blackwater guards were charged on December 08, with the killing 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians and wounding 18 others with gunfire and grenades while traveling in a convoy through a busy Baghdad intersection in September 2007. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
An Iraqi victim of a shooting incident sits listening during a meeting with US Federal Prosecutors to discuss the case against the security firm Blackwater at the central police station close to Nussur Square in central Baghdad on December 13, 2008. Three U.S. federal prosecutors met today in Baghdad with the families of victims and wounded from the shooting last September 2007 at Nussur Square by security officers from the US based Blackwater Security Company. Five Blackwater guards were charged on December 08, with the killing 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians and wounding 18 others with gunfire and grenades while traveling in a convoy through a busy Baghdad intersection in September 2007. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - JANUARY 06: Former Blackwater security guard Nick Slatten (C) and his lawyer Thomas Connolly (L) leave an arraignment hearing at U.S. district court on January 6, 2009 in Washington, DC. Slatten and four other former guards pleaded not guilty to charges of manslaughter in the killing of at least 14 unarmed Iraqis. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
Three Iraqi traffic policemen, witnesses to a shooting incident, sit in the front row listening during a meeting with US Federal Prosecutors to discuss the case against the security firm Blackwater at the central police station close to Nussur Square in central Baghdad on December 13, 2008. Three U.S. federal prosecutors met today in Baghdad with the families of victims and wounded from the shooting last September 2007 at Nussur Square by security officers from the US based Blackwater Security Company. Five Blackwater guards were charged on December 08, with the killing 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians and wounding 18 others with gunfire and grenades while traveling in a convoy through a busy Baghdad intersection in September 2007. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
Three Iraqi traffic policemen, witnesses to a shooting incident, sit listening during a meeting with US Federal Prosecutors to discuss the case against the security firm Blackwater at the central police station close to Nussur Square in central Baghdad on December 13, 2008. Three U.S. federal prosecutors met today in Baghdad with the families of victims and wounded from the shooting last September 2007 at Nussur Square by security officers from the US based Blackwater Security Company. Five Blackwater guards were charged on December 08, with the killing 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians and wounding 18 others with gunfire and grenades while traveling in a convoy through a busy Baghdad intersection in September 2007. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
Former Blackwater Worldwide guard Nicholas Slatten leaves federal court in Washington, Wednesday, June 11, 2014, after the start of his first-degree murder trial. Slatten and three other Blackwater Worldwide guards are on trial for the killing of 14 Iraqi civilians and the wounding of 18 others in bloodshed that inflamed anti-American sentiment around the globe. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Former Blackwater Worldwide guard Nicholas Slatten leaves federal court in Washington, Wednesday, June 11, 2014, after the start of his first-degree murder trial. Slatten and three other Blackwater Worldwide guards are on trial for the killing of 14 Iraqi civilians and the wounding of 18 others in bloodshed that inflamed anti-American sentiment around the globe. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
FILE - This June 11, 2014, file photo shows former Blackwater Worldwide guard Evan Liberty, right, arriving at federal court in Washington to stand trial for the killings of 14 Iraqi civilians and the wounding of 18 others in Nisoor Square in Baghdad. In opening statements on June 11, Brian Heberlig, defense lawyer for another guard, said there was ample evidence of incoming gunfire at Nisoor Square, including shell casings from AK-47s, found in three locations near the traffic circle, and multiple bullet strikes on one of the convoy vehicles. The defense has been bedeviled by the fact that no one has come forward to support its self-defense theory, and raised the possibility that prosecution witnesses, with direction from Iraqi law enforcement investigators, have orchestrated their stories. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)
Former Blackwater Worldwide guard Nicholas Slatten leaves the Federal Courthouse after the start of his first-degree murder trial in Washington, Wednesday, June 11, 2014. Slatten and three other Blackwater Worldwide guards are on trial for the killing of 14 Iraqi civilians and the wounding of 18 others in bloodshed that inflamed anti-American sentiment around the globe. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
FILE - In this Sept. 25, 2007 file photo, an Iraqi traffic policeman inspects a car destroyed by a Blackwater security detail in al-Nisoor Square in Baghdad, Iraq. The U.S. Justice Department has brought fresh charges against former Blackwater Worldwide security contractors over a deadly 2007 shooting on the streets of Baghdad. The jury indictment announced Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013 charges four men with voluntary manslaughter and other crimes. The case stems from the shooting of 17 Iraqi civilians. Blackwater security contractors were guarding U.S. diplomats when they opened fire at an intersection. Their lawyers have said the insurgents ambushed the guards. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed, File)
Gary Jackson former president of Blackwater, the company now known as Xe Services, leaves the Terry Sanford Federal Building and Courthouse in Raleigh, N.C., Wednesday, April 21, 2010. (AP Photo/Jim R. Bounds)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

By PETE YOST
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Lawyers for Blackwater security guards argued Monday that the government has suppressed evidence favorable to defendants who are on trial in the killings of 14 Iraqis in Nisoor Square in Baghdad.

The attorneys say the suppressed evidence consists of photographs of eight spent shell casings that would fit an AK-47 - the weapon of choice used by insurgents as well as Iraqi authorities.

A court filing by the defense attorneys says the photographs were made by a U.S. Army captain and that they never saw the light of day until federal prosecutors turned them over last Wednesday.

The photos could become an important part of the case. They could bolster the accounts of the security guards, who say they were being fired upon by insurgents and that the guards were simply returning fire.

"The government has suppressed, for seven years, evidence in its possession that is plainly exculpatory on the central disputed issue" in the case, the defense lawyers said in a court filing. "Had they possessed these photos, defendants would have made them a central focus during opening statements as evidence of incoming fire. Defendants also would have used this evidence to cross-examine at least four witnesses who have already testified" and who are not subject to being recalled because they have returned to Iraq.

The defense attorneys are asking that they be allowed to explain to the jurors in the case why they are just hearing now about the new evidence. The defense lawyers also want the judge to tell the jurors that the government failed to disclose the evidence before the trial, which began over a month ago.

According to the court filing, Army Capt. Peter Decareau was one of the first Americans to arrive at the Nisoor Square crime scene, where he took photos, including two of a group of eight AK-47 shells on the ground behind a bus stop. On Oct. 12, 2007, Decareau turned over to the FBI a CD of the crime scene photos.

In their court papers, the defense lawyers for the Blackwater guards say a prior team of prosecutors in 2008 and 2009 "withheld Decareau's photographs of the AK-47 shells."

On Feb. 13, 2009, the government told the defense lawyers that it was providing over 3,700 photographs of the crime scene.

"Despite specifically identifying ... a series of `U.S. Army photos of crime scene,' this production did not include Decareau's photographs of the AK-47 casings at the bus stop," the defense court filing states. "The original trial team produced additional photographs on July 27, 2009, but again did not produce the photos of the AK-47 casings."

It says that "it appears that the current trial team of prosecutors only recently learned of these photos, and that they turned them over promptly."

The eight AK-47 shells themselves have disappeared. Neither the State Department nor FBI agents recovered them.

"The physical evidence possessed by the FBI does not include the AK-47 shells photographed at the bus stop by Decareau," the court filing states. "Decareau's photographs are the only evidence of those AK-47 shells at the bus stop immediately after the incident."

The court filing raised the possibility that Iraqi authorities had taken the shell casings.

"Notably, photographs taken Sept. 16, 2007, show many Iraqi officials at the bus stop," said the court papers. "Decareau advised the FBI during his October 2007 interview that he observed" that Iraqi Army General Baja took several items from the scene."

The defense team said it would have used the photographs to rebut the government's claim that no evidence of incoming fire was found and to point out to the jury how easy it was for evidence of hostile fire to disappear.

The defense lawyers detailed instances in 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013 and earlier this year in which the photos of the spent shell casings could have come to light, but didn't.

For example, in a 2008 grand jury appearance, Decareau was questioned about a number of the photos he had taken, but the exhibits did not include the two photos of the AK-47 casings at the bus stop, according to the court filing.


More on AOL.com:
Ebola kills Liberian doctor, 2 Americans infected
Family of 5 shot dead in Maine, gun recovered
California lightning hits 14; 2 critically injured
Man seeks video of 1995 Oklahoma City bombing

Read Full Story

People are Reading