NORFOLK, Va. (AP/WAVY) - The retrial of two former Blackwater contractors charged in the shooting deaths of two Afghans in Kabul is underway in federal court in Virginia.
A jury was selected Tuesday. The first trial ended in September with a hung jury.
Defense attorneys contend Justin H. Cannon of Corpus Christi, Texas and Christopher Drotleff of Virginia Beach believed they were under attack on a dark, dangerous highway when they opened fire the night of May 5, 2009.
Prosecutors have said the men had been drinking in violation of military and company policy the day of the shooting.
They face murder, assault and weapons charges that could send them to prison for life.
Federal prosecutors asked that a lesser charge of manslaughter be added this go around after the jury foreman in September said jurors would have convicted both men on manslaughter, but not murder. Defense attorneys do not want the manslaughter charge added. Judge Doumar's won't rule on that request until the end of the trial.
Christopher Drotleff's wife Gina said she was shocked in September.
"It's been extremeley difficult actually because we did not anticipate you know for the first trial to be hung, we were extremely surprised," said Gina Drotleff.
Witnesses will be called Wednesday.
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