AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — Three gate guards at a Jordanian air base told a military court Monday that they held their fire when they heard an apparent gunshot from the direction of a nearby U.S. troop convoy because they couldn’t identify the source of the sound.
Their testimony raised new questions about the possible motive of a Jordanian soldier who is on trial for murder in the November shooting deaths of three U.S. military trainers. The defendant, 1st Sgt. Marik al-Tuwayha, allegedly opened fire on the convoy as it waited to enter the base, killing the U.S. Army Green Berets.
The defendant has pleaded “not guilty.” Throughout Monday’s session, he stood quietly in a cage in the courtroom, just meters (yards) from the fathers of two of the slain Americans.
The judge has said the defendant is not suspected of ties to terrorist groups.
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Jordan, a close U.S. military ally, initially said the Americans triggered the shooting by disobeying orders of Jordanian troops at the al-Jafr air base in the south of the kingdom. Jordan later withdrew this claim and King Abdullah II cleared the soldiers of any wrongdoing in a letter to the parents.
The victims were 27-year-old Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Lewellen of Kirksville, Missouri; 30-year-old Staff Sgt. Kevin J. McEnroe of Tucson, Arizona; and 27-year-old Staff Sgt. James F. Moriarty of Kerrville, Texas.
Three gate guards on Monday told the court that a four-car convoy carrying the U.S. military trainers pulled up at the entrance of the air base before noon on Nov. 4.
All four vehicles passed through the outer gate of the base. The lead vehicle then passed through the inner gate, leaving three more vehicles between the outer and inner gates.
At the time, the defendant was in a guardhouse next to the inner gate, witnesses said.
They say they heard what sounded like a shot from a pistol that seemed to be coming from the…