SAN DIEGO -- A key witness in the Navy SEAL court-martial trial said he, not Chief Edward Gallagher, killed a wounded Islamic State fighter in Iraq in 2017, testimony that appears to up-end the prosecution's main claim in a nationally watched murder and attempted murder case.
Corey Scott, a first class petty officer, testified that he was there and saw Gallagher stab the wounded ISIS fighter in the neck but, he said, he killed the fighter afterward.
Scott said he used his thumb to cover the breathing tube that had been inserted to help the fighter breathe and he watched the man die. He said he did it to spare the fighter from being tortured later by members of the Iraqi Emergency Response Division, who also were fighting ISIS.
Prosecutors said Scott was lying to protect Gallagher, who is charged with premeditated murder for allegedly killing the wounded ISIS fighter while providing medical treatment. He's also charged with shooting two civilians and, at other times during that deployment, shooting indiscriminately at civilians.
Gallagher denies all the charges and has pleaded not guilty. His lead defense attorney, Timothy Parlatore, has said that some witnesses have conspired to lie about Gallagher.
Prosecutors said that while talking to investigators, Scott never mentioned that he killed the fighter.
Scott denied lying and said he didn't tell prosecutors or investigators about his actions because he wasn't directly asked, not until several weeks ago when defense attorney Marc Mukasey asked him what he did after the stabbing.
Scott also acknowledged that he didn't want Gallagher to be imprisoned.
"I don't want him to go to jail," Scott said of Gallagher.
In prior court discussions, it was revealed that Scott is one of the witnesses who had obtained immunity from prosecution.