American Family News spoke to Nicholas Slatten, a former U.S. Army sergeant and Blackwater contractor who was sentenced to life in prison but was pardoned by then-president Donald Trump in December 2020. A lack of transparency by some prosecutors is nothing new to Slatten, who once faced the federal government's relentless assault on truth and suppression of evidence.
During the multiple trials following the deadly Nisour Square incident on September 16, 2007, Slatten's prosecutors never fully disclosed the truth of what happened in Baghdad, Iraq, on that fateful day. He suspects that U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs – who in 2011 was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the murders of three Afghans – has found himself in the same position.
In two of the murders, Gibbs denies any involvement – an issue Slatten contends would be confirmed by the testimonies of other soldiers. As for the third death, Slatten indicates the evidence points to a lawful killing.
"With regard to this body," he claims, "there was exculpatory evidence by SPC Michael Wagnon that was not allowed to be heard during Gibbs' trial."
That fact has Slatten concerned about the truth surrounding Gibbs' case.
"Wagnon testified under oath that Gibbs engaged an active shooter," he points out – a target that Wagnon also engaged, in fact. "So, how can anyone say Gibbs committed a murder?
"They were being engaged by the enemy in a Taliban-controlled area, so they shot the guy," Slatten continues. "Again, how can that be murder?" But perhaps more importantly: "Why didn't the jury get to hear that?" he wonders.
The answer, he contends, is that prosecutors withheld evidence, effectively denying the jury the opportunity to hear exonerating testimony on Gibbs' behalf.
Slatten argues that prosecutors knew Wagnon would have testified to Gibbs' innocence, so his description of the events was not disclosed to the defense. He's also convinced that plea deals for reduced sentences quickly turned other witnesses against Gibbs – and that the testimonies of many them would have contradicted Wagnon's testimony.
"It shows that the prosecution in this case was fully committed to putting on their side of the story, knowing that there was a different side of the story that would have hurt their case," Slatten accuses. "They were willing to hide evidence, acting outside the interest of justice."
As a result, Slatten concludes, Gibbs did not receive a fair trial and now sits in prison (U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, Ft. Leavenworth, KS), frustrated, knowing that Wagnon's testimony could have created reasonable doubt in a jury.