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
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
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.