Two Tennesseans convicted in Iraq shooting - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Two Tennesseans convicted in Iraq shooting

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MARYVILLE, TN (WBIR) - Four former Blackwater security guards were found guilty in connection with a September 2007 deadly shooting involving more than two dozen citizens in Iraq. Two Tennesseans were among those convicted.

Nicholas Slatten, of Sparta, Tenn., was found guilty of first-degree murder. Dustin Heard, from Maryville, Tenn., was found guilty of six counts of voluntary manslaughter, 11 counts of attempted manslaughter and one firearms offense. Two other guards, Paul Slough and Evan Liberty, were also convicted of multiple accounts of voluntary manslaughter, attempted manslaughter, and firearms offenses.

Nathan Weinbaum, director of veteran's affairs for Blount County, said he knew Heard from their interactions at the veteran's affairs office and was hoping for a different verdict.

"My office has worked with him a lot, really enjoyed who he was and just enjoyed working with him," Weinbaum said.

CNN reports 17 Iraqi civilians were killed that day in Nusoor Square, with 18 more injured.

"I really believe in Dustin's character," Weinbaum said. "I don't think he would have intentionally, purposefully killed anybody."

Weinbaum said Heard is a veteran of the United States Marine Corp. He worked for Blackwater, a defense contractor hired by the state department to protect American diplomats in Baghdad.

The firm said the state department convoy it was protecting was in danger that day and came under attack in the Central Baghdad Square.

The Iraqi government called the shootings "unprovoked" and "premeditated murder."

The trial lasted more than two months, with the jury deliberating for 28 days.

A judge has not scheduled a sentencing date. Heard could face multiple decades in prison, and Slatten could face life in prison.
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