Friday, September 10, 1971

Army Rests Case Against Medina

Last Witness Is an Expert in Lie-Detector Examination

By Homer Bigart
Special To New York Times

Fort McPherson, Ga., Sept. 9

The Government rested its case against Capt. Ernest Medina today after 11 days of trial in which 31 witnesses tried to recall the slaying of civilians in the South Vietnamese hamlet of Mylai 3-1/2 years ago.

The Government has tried to prove that Captain Medina became aware early in the action that his men were killing civilians, that he did nothing to halt it and, by failing to intervene, condoned or encouraged the killings.

Besides being charged with over-all responsibility for the deaths of "no less than 100" civilians, the captain is charged with the premeditated murder of a woman and a small boy and with assault upon a prisoner by shooting at him with a rifle.

But the Government's last witness, an Army polygraph expert who administered lie detector test to the accused officer, said under cross-examination that in 999 minutes of testing last November, Captain Medina repeatedly said that he had never intended to kill "innocent civilians" and that he ordered his men to stop firing as soon as he became aware that large numbers of noncombatants had been slain.

How the polygraph charts rated Captain Medina's truthfulness was ruled inadmissible but the witness, Robert A. Brisenstine, Jr., was allowed to recall his interview with the captain before submitting him to the polygraph machine.

What Captain Medina told Mr. Brisenstine seemed to differ in only one material respect with the defense's contention that the captain was not aware of any large scale killings until 10:25 A.M. on the morning of the assault, By that time the action was over.

According to Mr. Brisenstine, Captain Medina said that his first awareness that "something had gone wrong" could have come s early s 9:30 A.M. The captain "felt he had lost control of his men" between 9:30 and 10:30 A.M. because he had seen some dead civilians, Mr. Brisenstine said.

However, Captain Medina has said that it was not until 10:25 A.M. that he first saw a group of 20 to 28 corpses on a path, an encounter that caused him to give a cease-fire order. He was able to place the time, he said, because at that moment, 10:25, an American soldier who had shot himself in the foot was being evacuated by helicopter from a spot near the corpses.

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