Army officer's family upset by guilty verdict over Afghanistan shootings

Army First Lieutenant Clint Lorance (Image courtesy www.defendoursoldier.com)
August 2, 2013 7:55:20 PM PDT
One day after 1st Lt. Clint Lorance was convicted and sentenced to prison for a shooting that left two men dead in Afghanistan, his family is angry, frustrated and sad.

"When they gave him the 20 year sentence, he turned straight around to his family and said 'I am OK. Promise me that you all will be strong," said Clint's mother Anna Lorance.

For Anna Lorance, Thursday's heartache has turned to anger.

"He got a very raw deal," she said. "He told me 'Mom, I did what I had to do. I'm not going to second guess myself. I made the best decision that I knew to do.'"

The 28-year-old Lorance was sentenced to 20 years in prison for ordering his men to shoot two afghan civilians who rode motorcycles near his unit while on patrol.

During the three day trial at the Ft. Bragg Courthouse, Lorance's lawyers argued he was trying to protect his soldiers, but prosecutors argued Lorance's unit used his rank and position to threaten and murder Afghan civilians.

If that sounds harsh, Lorance's family agrees.

"He always followed instructions," said Clint's uncle, Brian Lorance.

Brian Lorance says the ten-year Army veteran's numerous awards and citation speak to his real character.

"If I was a young person in the military, I would want a leader just like him," said Brian.

He and other family members believe that soldiers from Lorance's platoon changed their stories about what happened. Several testified that Lorance threatened to kill Afghan villagers near their base, and ordered one of his men to shoot at villagers to scare them.

In the end, Lorance told the court-martial he took full responsibility for his soldiers' actions.

"That just goes to show you the kind of honorable and loving person he was, and that he still had their backs," said Clint's brother Cody Lorance.

Family members say they are going to fight to win Lorance's freedom and restore his good name.

"I have no doubt that when he comes out he will be on top," said Clint's cousin Jamie Garza. "No doubt in my mind."

"He is a soldier to the end, and the military let go, put down and threw away one of the best soldiers that would have made a career fighting for our country till the day he died," said Anna.

Lorance will be held at the military prison at Camp Lejeune to await his transfer to Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary.

Military officials say his case will be automatically appealed.

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