Convicted Blackwater Guards Sentenced, Friends of Raven 23 and Families Vow to Fight for Release

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Families release statement following the sentencing of guards for 2007 Iraq killings

The families of Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, and Dustin Heard still contend that such a lengthy sentence is patently cruel and unusual in light of what we believe to be the complete lack of forensic evidence tying any defendant to any alleged victim."

Friends of Raven 23, the key group advocating on behalf of convicted Raven 23 team members, has released a statement following the sentencing yesterday of the former Blackwater guards, which took place following the denial of a motion to delay the proceedings. The sentencing decision, which was delayed for nearly six months after the guards’ convictions, was rendered in open court by U.S. Federal District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth. (Case 2008-0360, US District Court, Washington, DC)

"The families of the four convicted guards, highly-decorated veterans who vehemently maintain their own innocence, are gravely disappointed that the judge did not accept their argument that the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment renders the sentences imposed unconstitutional," said Christin Slough, wife of one of the convicted guards. "While still upholding the weapons charge with a 30 year mandatory minimum, the Judge did exercise his discretion to provide the most lenient sentence of 30 years and a day. The families of Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, and Dustin Heard still contend that such a lengthy sentence is patently cruel and unusual in light of what we believe to be the complete lack of forensic evidence tying any defendant to any alleged victim." The fourth guard, Nick Slatten, received a mandatory life sentence for first-degree premeditated murder, in addition to being convicted on weapons charges.

The families of the Raven 23 members held a joint press conference with their legal teams immediately following the sentencing, in which they publicly stated; “We urge you to look past the media spin and false narrative created by the U.S. Department of Justice to consider what we’ve known all along: that these four decorated veterans, Nick Slatten, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, and Dustin Heard, are guilty of nothing more than being selected as scapegoats for the confessed wrongdoing of another teammate.”

The families are confident in the merits of an upcoming appeal; however, in the event of its unexpected failure, they have vowed to keep fighting for the release of their husbands, brothers, sons, and fathers. They encourage everyone to educate themselves on the facts of the case by reviewing trial evidence and transcripts at http://www.supportraven23.com.

Family representatives will also be available by appointment in the Washington, DC area from April 15th through April 17th.

For media inquiries and requests for interviews, please contact infoATsupportraven23DOTcom or call 972-342-5395. Friends of Raven 23 also has a blog with regular updates.

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