Former Sweetwater soldier opens up about past conviction

10:33 PM, Apr 20, 2011   |    comments
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Former East Tennessee soldier Raymond Girouard sat down for a detailed interview with 10News Reporter Stoney Sharp. 

Girouard spoke about the past case and what life has been like for him since he was incarcerated and cleared of a negligent homicide charge.

Girouard said it was not easy for him to speak about his feelings, especially since he kept quiet about the case for more than four years.

"You're afraid to say the wrong thing to the wrong person because you don't want to upset nobody," he said. "You don't want to say anything that might jeopardize my ongoing appeal."

Now since he was cleared of negligent homicide, Girouard felt it was safe to tell his side of the story.

"I never gave such and order," he said. " Pretty much, they [two other soldiers] did what they did. I wasn't there to witness it.  I heard shots fired. I came around the house in the objective and I saw what happened."

Girouard admitted that he told his fellow soldiers to keep quiet about the incident, but he had no regrets.

"I was told by my Grandmother that everything happens for a reason," Girouard said. " I'm a firm believer in that and I love my life today. I'm stronger for it. I'm more experienced for it."

Girouard said he is not mad at the military.  He is simply happy that the courts finally saw his innocence.

"It's just great to feel the air and to be back home and be free," the former soldier added. 

Previous story:

A former East Tennessee soldier who served prison time after he was convicted of negligent homicide was cleared of that charge by a military appeals court.

Former Staff Sergeant Raymond Girouard served three and a half years in a military prison.

He was found guilty of negligent homicide and other charges in connection with the murders of three Iraqi detainees in 2006.

Two other soldiers admitted to the killings, but said Girouard gave the orders.

Girouard maintained his innocence and appealed to a higher court.

Late last week, that court ruled a lower court made a mistake by not dismissing the negligent homicide conviction.

His family is overjoyed to learn that the charges have been dropped. "It's just overwhelming. Five years is a long time to fight. We were looking at one point at the death sentence," said Girouard's sister Joy Oakes.

Girouard is still pushing to be cleared of two misdemeanor charges. His family is also hoping to convince the military to change his dishonorable discharge to an honorable one and to give Girouard back pay for some of the time he spent in prison.

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