War Crimes Case Stressful for Marine's Family

Kathi Hutchins was in tears at one point while she talked about her son’s six-year legal battle

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    North County Times
    Lawrence Hutchins seen walking out of court in this 2010 image.

    In one of the biggest war crimes cases to come out of the Iraq war, the government is asking the military's highest court to reconsider its decision to overturn a murder conviction of a Camp Pendleton-based U.S. Marine.

    In an exclusive interview with NBC 7, the Marine’s mother, Kathi Hutchins, defended her son.

    “Everything he really did he thought it was what he was supposed to do and he wasn't even 21 when he went to jail,” Hutchins said.

    Kathi Hutchins was in tears at one point while she talked about her son’s six-year legal battle.

    “He's strong,” she said. “I admire him I even said I am so proud to have him be my son.”

    Lawrence Hutchins and his eight-man squad kidnapped a retired Iraqi policeman from his home in April 2006, marched him to a ditch where they shot and killed him.

    Two weeks ago, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces threw out the conviction ordering that Sgt. Hutchins be released from prison, after serving half his sentence.

    Hutchins' claimed his rights were violated when he was held in solitary confinement without access to a lawyer for seven days during his 2006 interrogation in Iraq.

    On Monday, military prosecutors argued Hutchins waived his right to counsel at the time and willfully told his side of the story without being badgered or coerced. They asked the court to reinstate the conviction.

    Kathi Hutchins said she and the rest of the family thought that after six years of battling, Lawrence would be freed.

    It’s been a roller coaster case and this is yet another scary blind turn, she said.

    “I'm disappointed in it but I am not surprised by it. It would be a travesty to military families that need the money. Why waste it on a retrial,” Kathi Hutchins said.

    The defense says the prosecution's new motion is nothing more than a stall tactic.

    Kathi Hutchins holds no grudge against the U.S. Marine Corps and neither does her son.

    “He expects to go right back to work and I wish he wouldn't but he loves the Marine Corps,” she said.

    Lawrence Hutchins released a statement through his attorney Tuesday, calling the prosecution's motion frivolous, and that the family has been through enough.

    His mother fears the case against her son will discourage young men and women from joining the Armed Forces and those in the field fear doing their jobs.

    Under the military justice system, Hutchins will remain in the brig until the court rules on the government's motion, unless it orders the military to release him immediately.