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World Omar Khadr is 'unworthy,' widow of slain U.S. medic says

Tabitha Speer, widow of Sergeant Chris Speer, killed by Omar Khadr, reads a letter her children wrote to Mr. Khadr. Speer appeared in court Oct. 28, 2010.

Janet Hamlin/Janet Hamlin

Tabitha Speer, the widow of the U.S. special forces medic killed by Omar Khadr, spoke movingly of Sergeant Chris Speer as a loving husband and devoted father, and described his killer as "unworthy."

"I couldn't have asked for a better father for my children," Mrs. Speer testified Thursday at the sentencing portion of Mr. Khadr's war-crimes trial at Guantanamo Bay.

"He spent every moment he had with the children ... as though it was his last moment."

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Sgt. Speer, who suffered severe head wounds, died 12 days later after the firefight in a U.S. medical hospital in Germany. His organs were donated for transplants.

"He ultimately gave me a few days with him, so I spent a few days in the hospital with my husband. ... He did everything he could to hold on."

Photographs of Sgt. Speer holding the couple's two children were displayed in the military courtroom.

"It was always his family that was most important,'' Mrs. Speer said. She said the only promise she has ever failed to keep was the one she made to her daughter - that she would "bring her daddy home."

In her only direct reference to Mr. Khadr, Mrs. Speer referred to the Canadian as "someone who is so unworthy" yet who "stole all this from" Taryn, now 11, and Tanner, now eight, who was too young to remember his father.

In evident pain, Mrs. Speer recalled returning two weeks later to face the horrific task of telling Taryn that her father had been killed.

"She let out a scream," Mrs. Speer said. "At that moment, a part of my daughter died with my husband; she was three-and-a-half years old."

With her voice occasionally cracking, she said: "There are some many things about this man that I wish I could convey to you; the love in his eyes when he looked at me."

"I was scared," she said of her husband's deployment to Afghanistan.

At times, Mrs. Speer, wearing a black-and-white dress, managed to inject a note of quiet levity.

"Chris's friends made fun of him because he came straight home to his wife,'' she said, raising just a hint of a murmur among the uniformed personnel in an otherwise silent courtroom.

On Wednesday, in riveting and emotional testimony, the warrior brothers of the U.S. soldier killed by Mr. Khadr spoke hauntingly about Sgt. Speer's life and legacy.

"After nine years, almost a decade of sustained combat, I have lost a lot of friends ... and it does not get any easier. But I have not one time seen a loss so absolutely catastrophic," said the soldier identified only as Captain E., a close family friend who flew to Afghanistan to replace Sgt. Speer after he was mortally mounded by a grenade thrown by Mr. Khadr, then 15, in a fierce firefight in July of 2002.

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"He was like a brother to me."

Mr. Khadr, 24, who this week pleaded guilty to murder, terrorism and spying, sat stone-faced as a hulking, bald, special forces sergeant-major - his voice cracking with emotion - spoke of still attending Sgt. Speer's daughter's soccer games and "seeing the way Chris moved in her."

He told the seven senior officers of how Sgt. Speer, a few days before he was killed, walked into an active minefield to save two wounded Afghan children.

The loss was devastating to the unit, the panel was told, not just because Sgt. Speer was a highly trained fighter and medic, but because his humanity and comradeship were unparalleled.

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