Now, on New Year's Eve, the U.S. District Judge involved in the criminal cases threw out all charges against all five defendants because of reckless prosecutorial misconduct.
The Associated Press reports today:
Prosecutors who mishandled the investigation into a deadly 2007 Blackwater Worldwide shooting face a possible misconduct citation from a judge who says they withheld evidence and violated the guards' constitutional rights.
U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina admonished the Justice Department last week for its "reckless" handling of the investigation into a shooting that left 17 Iraqis dead. He threw out manslaughter and weapons charges against five security guards and, in a footnote, said he was also considering whether the repeated government missteps amounted to misconduct.
Such a ruling would be an embarrassing cap to a politically sensitive investigation and a black eye to a department that is still dealing with the fallout from last year's botched corruption case against former Sen. Ted Stevens. In that case, a judge wiped away the senator's conviction and appointed a lawyer to investigate prosecutors for withholding evidence from defense attorneys.