US marine murder conviction overturned

2013-06-27 11:04

San Diego - The US military's highest court overturned a murder conviction on Wednesday against a Camp Pendleton Marine in one of the most significant cases against American troops from the Iraq war.

The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces threw out the conviction of Sergeant Lawrence Hutchins III, who has served about half of his 11-year sentence.

According to the ruling posted on the court's website, the judges agreed with Hutchins, who claimed that his constitutional rights were violated when he was held in solitary confinement without access to a lawyer for seven days during his interrogation in Iraq.

Hutchins led an eight-man squad accused of kidnapping a retired Iraqi policeman from his home in April 2006, marching him to a ditch and shooting him to death in the village of Hamdania.

None of the other seven members of the squad served more than 18 months.

The move is the latest in a series of twists and turns for Hutchins, whose case already was overturned once by a court that ruled his 2007 trial was unfair because his lead defence lawyer quit shortly before it began.

The same court that accepted Hutchins' new petition overruled that decision, saying the problem was not grave enough to throw out the conviction. Hutchins was returned to the brig after eight months working at a desk job at California's Camp Pendleton.

He was set to be released in July 2015 at the earliest.

Hutchins' lawyer, Babu Kaza, said he expects him to now be released in days.

"Sergeant Hutchins and his family have suffered enough with this case, and it's time for this to be over," Kaza said. "Enough is enough."

The Navy can appeal to the Supreme Court or send the case to the convening authority, who can either order a retrial or let the ruling stand.

Navy officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

  • Gwilym John Howes - 2013-06-27 12:27

    Good news, but wrong reason. He needs to be released because what he did was not wrong. His sentence was only in deference to the lunatic left with all their soft sentiment crap.

      Sht Stirrer - 2013-06-27 12:37

      How can you say that? It sounds like cold blooded murder to me.

      Simphiwe Charlie - 2013-06-27 12:48

      Gwilym if you think executing someone in cold blood is not wrong you need a new moral compass. He should remain in jail for life!

      Theo Konings - 2013-06-27 13:02

      So it was not wrong to execute an unarmed civilian? Lunatic right wing more like!

      Ahava Shapiro - 2013-06-27 14:20

      Gwilym, put prejudices aside and look at the reasons for him standing trial in the first place. Don't ignore the rule of law.

      Gwilym John Howes - 2013-06-27 15:39

      Here is my reason. The US was/is at war with Iraq. Now I know that the modern, BS thinking is that when countries are at war, only the SOLDIERS are at war with each other. But that is modern nonsense that has come about in the last 50 years or so, probably due to the bleeding heart liberals. I, and many others, do not agree. To me, the time-honoured way of war continues: If you are at war with a country, every member of the opposing country is your enemy: man, women, child, dog and cat. Kill them all! So for him to kill ANY Iraqi is correct and justifiable to me. But let us also investigate the 'unarmed, innocent civilian' concept. The victim was a 'retired' policeman. Do you all think he was targeted just by chance? I don't think so. There were reasons, I am sure of that. Perhaps retribution for something he did or did not do when in office. I don't know, and I don't care. But I do know this was not just random selection.

  • Tim Norris - 2013-06-27 12:57

    Let us conveniently forget the Gitmo inmates who have been held for 12 years without trial, half of whom are waiting to be released.

      Gwilym John Howes - 2013-06-27 15:40

      Let us NEVER forget them. Indeed, let us keep them there forever, or better still, execute them today!

      Simphiwe Charlie - 2013-06-27 16:26

      Gwilym you are a very, very sick person!

      Gwilym John Howes - 2013-06-28 15:33

      Not at all Simphiwe, I just hate all terrorists. There is NO ONE at Gitmo that deserves to be free again, ever.

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