Four former Blackwater security guards were found guilty Wednesday in the 2007 shootings of more than 30 Iraqis in Baghdad, and a federal judge ordered them immediately to jail.
In an overwhelming victory for prosecutors, a jury found Nicholas Slatten guilty of first-degree murder. The three other guards -- Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard -- were found guilty of multiple counts of voluntary manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and gun charges.
The four men had been charged with a combined 33 counts in the shootings and the jury was able to reach a verdict on all of them, with the exception of three charges against Heard. The prosecution agreed to drop those charges.
The outcome after a summerlong trial and weeks of jury deliberation stunned the defense.
David Schertler, a lawyer for Heard, said "the verdict is wrong, it's incomprehensible. We're devastated. We're going to fight it every step of the way. We still think we're going to win."
The shootings on Sept. 16, 2007, caused an international uproar over the role of defense contractors in urban warfare.
The State Department hired Blackwater to protect American diplomats in Baghdad, the Iraqi capital, and elsewhere in the country. Blackwater convoys of four heavily armored vehicles operated in risky environments where car bombs and attacks by insurgents were common.
Slatten was charged with first-degree murder; the others were charged with voluntary manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and gun charges.
The case was mired in legal battles for years, making it uncertain whether the defendants would ever be tried.
Sure there will be appeals from now until no one even remembers who these guys are or what happened but in the mean time they are cooling their heels in the slammer.
Blackwater changed their name after this all came out but they are still out there, hired thugs and mercenaries with more equipment and firepower than some countries armies.
We were paying for all that because our government hired these guys.