The retrial of a U.S. Marine who again faces war crimes charges is back to square one, a military judge said Friday.
Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins III appeared in a Camp Pendleton court for a pre-trial hearing.
The judge was tasked with determining if Hutchins’ attorneys were tainted – as the defendant claimed – because they work for the U.S. Marine Corps command, which Hutchins said “unduly influenced” the case against him.
However, the judge, Col. Michael Richardson rejected Hutchins’ argument and found no undue influence with regards to his legal representation.
“I find no good cause to sever the relationship of the attorneys,” Richardson said in court.
“You are back to square one,” he added, referring to Hutchins’ retrial.
The defendant did not object to the ruling but declined when asked by the judge to let his council go.
The military’s highest court overturned his previous 11-year prison conviction last year, ruling that his constitutional rights were violated and that a confession Hutchins made while being held in a trailer without access to a lawyer for seven days should not have been admitted as evidence.
Now, he is set to be retried on charges of murder, conspiracy, obstruction of justice, false statements and larceny, stemming from the killing of an Iraqi civilian while he was deployed in April 2006.
Hutchins is accused of leading an eight-person squad suspected of kidnapping and killing a retired Iraqi policeman.
The sergeant’s court martial is scheduled to start on Aug. 18, and he faces 11 years in prison if convicted, minus the nearly seven years he’s already served.
Hutchins and his wife declined to comment to NBC 7 as they entered into court Friday.