Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins, a U.S. Marine whose war crimes conviction was overturned on appeal, has requested a defense attorney from outside the U.S. Marine Corps to represent him, delaying his arraignment in San Diego. NBC 7's Mari Payton reports.
A U.S. Marine whose war crimes conviction was overturned on appeal said the idea of facing a retrial is "incredibly difficult" for him and his family.
Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins III was arraigned on charges of murder, conspiracy, obstruction of justice, false statements and larceny related to the alleged murder of a "unnamed Iraqi civilian" in Iraq in April 2006.
At the end of this morning's two and a hour hearing, the military judge set Hutchin's trial for August 18 - 29.
But that judge, Capt. Michael Richardson, denied Hutchins' request that the judge recuse himself from the case.
Hutchins claims that the judge and the defense attorney appointed for him cannot fairly participate in his case because they are unduly influenced by the Secretary of the Navy, who has publicly commented about Hutchins' guilt.
In an interview after today's hearing, Hutchins told reporters that any judge or defense attorney appointed by the Defense Service Organization is compromised because "they don't want to go against the Secretary of the Navy".
Hutchins said the reality of a retrial is "incredibly difficult" for him and his family and is causing "a lot of stress on a daily basis for him, his pregnant wife and their two children.
"We just want this to be over," Hutchins said.
Hutchins and his squad were accused of marching the man into a ditch and fatally shooting him in Hamdania, and then staging the body to look like the man had been planting bombs.
After a previous court martial, Hutchins was sentenced to 11 years in prison.
He was freed from the Miramar Brig in July after Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces ruled that his constitutional rights had been violated at the time of his arrest.
The Marine Corps highest Court reversed his conviction last June ruling that a confession Hutchins made while being held in a trailer without legal representation should not have been admitted as evidence.