North Texas soldier found guilty of murder in deaths of Afghani civilians

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by TERESA WOODARD

WFAA

Posted on August 1, 2013 at 10:15 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 1 at 10:30 PM

First came the verdict, and then the sentence.

Both were shocking for the family of First Lieutenant Clint Lorance, who grew up in Celeste, just outside of McKinney. Much of his family spent the week at Fort Bragg, North Carolina to support him during the three-day court martial he faced.

"He's a very strong, courageous, young man," said his mother, Anna, to a reporter from a Raleigh-Durham television station. "He still believes in what he done. He believes he done what he should've. He believes he done the only thing he could do. He's leaning on that, and trusting in that -- that that will carry him through."

She said those words Wednesday, but Thursday, a court martial panel found her son guilty of two counts of murder for the deaths of two unarmed Afghani civilians in July 2012. Then, they sentenced him to 20 years in prison.

Though Lorance did not fire the deadly shots in Afghanistan last year, he gave the order. And during the court martial, the soldiers who fired their weapons testified that they didn't feel threatened by the civilians. They said they only fired because Lorance told them to.

Under the military's rules of engagement, soldiers are required to hold fire until there is an obvious hostile action against them.

Lorance had taken over command of the platoon in the days after they'd suffered several losses. The commander he replaced had been injured by a bomb.

Lorance was also found guilty of attempted murder and impeding the investigation. In addition to the 20 year prison term, he will also be dismissed from the army and must forfeit all his pay.

The Lorance family had set up webpage and Facebook account trying to clear Clint's name. They even set up an online petition.

They call him a man of character who always wanted to serve.

He made unsworn one statement during his court martial, saying he took full responsibility for his men's actions.

E-mail twoodard@wfaa.com

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