following statements are prosecution representations and not
my conclusions as to the state of the evidence but the prosecution
alleges that Captain Medina was the company commander of Charlie
Company, Ist Battalion, 20th Infantry of the 11th Brigade. As
company commander Captain Medina had briefed the men of his
company, assigned them specific missions, dispatched them on
a combat assault described as a search-and-destroy mission,
into the village of My Lai (4) at about 0730 hours on 6 March
prosecution alleges that the accused was on the ground in and
about the village of My Lai (4) from shortly after 0730 hours,
16 March 1968, until after Charlie Company moved from the village
of My Lai (4) into a night laager position in the afternoon
of 16 March 1968, as well as thereafter. The prosecution also
alleges that Captain Medina was in radio contact throughout
the operation with his platoons.
is contended that the accused was aware almost from the beginning
of the operation that the units of his company were receiving
no hostile fire and in fact early in the morning ordered his
men to conserve ammunition. The prosecution also contends that
some time during the morning hours of 16 March 1968, the accused
became aware that his men were improperly killing noncombatants.
It is contended that this awareness arose because of the accused's
observations, both by sight and hearing, and because of the
conversation between Sergeant Minh and the accused. The prosecution
contends this time of awareness on the part of the accused was
at least at some time between 0930-1030 hours, 16 March 1968,
if not earlier.
contention is further made that the accused, as Company Commander,
had a continuing duty to control the activities of his subordinates
where such activities were being carried out as part of an assigned
military mission, and this became particularly true when he
became aware that the military duties were being carried out
by his men in an unlawful manner. The prosecution contends that
Captain Medina, after becoming aware of the killing of noncombatants
by his troops, declined to exercise his command responsibility
by not taking necessary and reasonable steps to cause his troops
to cease the killing of noncombatants.
is further contended by the prosecution that after the accused
became aware of these acts of his subordinates and before he
issued an order to cease fire, that a number of unidentified
Vietnamese civilians were killed by his troops. The contention
is made that Captain Medina did not issue a cease fire order
until late in the morning and that when a cease fire order was
in fact given, that the troops did cease their fire.
is the prosecution's contention that the accused was capable
of controlling his troops throughout the operations but that
once learning he had lost control of his unit, he declined to
regain control for a substantial period of time during which
the deaths of unidentified Vietnamese civilians occurred. It
is finally the prosecution's contention that as a commander
the accused, after actual awareness, had a duty to interfere
(and) he may be held personally responsible because his unlawful
inaction was the proximate cause of unlawful homicides by his
to the theory of the prosecution, the defense alleges that Captain
Medina never became aware of the misconduct of his men until
too late and immediately upon suspecting that his orders were
being misunderstood and improper acts occurring, he ordered
his men to cease fire.
accused contends that even though he was on the ground he stayed
with his command post west of the village for tactical reasons
and never saw any evidence of suspicious or unnecessary deaths
until immediately prior to the cease fire order. He contends
that he was aware of an artillery prep and double coverage of
helicopter gunships, and that it was likely that some noncombatants
might be killed by such protective fires.
believed that noncombatants, and particularly the women and
children, would not be in the village on that particular morning.
He contends that though he saw a few bodies near the vicinity
of the village of My Lai (4), he believed these to be the results
of the artillery and gunship fire.
accused contends that though be became aware that his troops
were out of control, by the time of this awareness, the deaths
had all occurred and it was too late to prevent what had occurred;
but as soon as he became aware he did issue a cease fire order.
He asserts that though there was some degree of volume of fire
throughout the morning, he was aware that his men were under
orders to kill the livestock in My Lai (4) and in the initial
stages of the operation his men were advancing toward and through
what he believed to be an area heavily infested with a well-armed
enemy and his men were laying down a suppressive fire.