Captain Rogelio ‘Roger’ Maynulet, 30, was found guilty of assault with intent to commit voluntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
Prosecutors had sought a conviction on the more serious charge of assault with intent to commit murder.
Lieutenant Colonel Laurence Mixon read the verdict, which followed 30 minutes of deliberation by the six-member jury in Wiesbaden, western Germany.
“I respect your decision,” Capt Maynulet responded, according to a report by the Associated Press (AP).
“I think you did what you had to do.”
“We’re trained, conditioned to keep a distance,” the decorated former tank company commander said.
“”Maybe my mistake was that I projected myself into that Iraqi. I didn’t want to be in his state – if I were, I would hope that someone would put me out of my misery.”
On May 21, 2004, the captain was leading his 1st Armoured Division company on a mission near Kufa, south of Baghdad, when it was alerted that a ‘high-level target’ was headed toward them.
The company pursued the vehicle and opened fire.
A passenger was wounded, and briefly evaded capture.
The driver was taken from the car and found to be suffering serious head injuries.
A company medic apparently told Capt Maynulet that “there is nothing I can do.”
“Those five words were enough to make a life and death decision, and he chose to end a life,” prosecutor Major John Rothwell told the court martial.
“This combat-trained life saver prescribed two bullets. He didn’t call his superiors for guidance, didn’t consult with his medic.”
In his defence, lawyers had argued the captain’s actions were in line with the Geneva Conventions on the conduct of war.
Defence attorney, Captain Will Helixon, claimed that conflicting testimony from neurosurgeons about whether the unnamed Iraqi was alive at the time of the shooting required that Capt Maynulet be acquitted.
A sentence is expected to be handed down tomorrow.