One by one, four former Blackwater security contractors wearing blue jumpsuits and leg irons stood before a federal judge on Monday and spoke publicly for the first time since a deadly 2007 shooting in Iraq.
“I know for a fact that I will be exonerated, in this life and the next,” said Paul A. Slough.
“I am very sorry for the loss of life,” Dustin L. Heard said. “But I cannot say in all honesty to the court that I believe I did anything wrong.”
“As God is my witness,” Evan S. Liberty said, he fired only at insurgents who were shooting at him.
“The verdict is wrong,” said Nicholas A. Slatten, a former Army sniper who was convicted of murder for starting the melee with a precision shot through the head of a young man stopped at an intersection. “You know I am innocent, sir.”
The judge, Royce C. Lamberth, strongly disagreed, sentencing Mr. Slatten to life in prison and handing 30-year sentences to the three others.