Marine Suspect May Get Honorable Discharge

Sgt. Jermaine Nelson faced up to life in prison if convicted of murder

Tuesday, Sep 29, 2009  |  Updated 12:45 PM PDT
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Marine Suspect May Get Honorable Discharge

North County Times

Jermaine Nelson (left) walks with his attorneys towards a hearing in February at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside.

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A military judge has dismissed a murder charge against a Marine accused of killing an unarmed detainee in Iraq.
     
The charge against Sgt. Jermaine Nelson was dismissed Tuesday at Camp Pendleton after he agreed to plead guilty to dereliction of duty. His attorney Joseph Low said the plea agreement called for no prison time and an honorable discharge.

Nelson said he shot and killed one of four detainees at the direction of his then squad leader, former Marine Sgt. Jose L. Nazario Jr., reported the North County Times.

"I entered a house with four individuals standing there with no weapons," the St. Louis-area native told Navy Capt. Keith Allred, the judge presiding over Nelson's court-martial in a Camp Pendleton courtroom. "None made it back out alive, sir."
     
The 28-year-old faced up to life in prison if convicted of murder.
     
Nelson and two squad mates from Camp Pendleton were charged with capturing four suspected insurgents inside a Fallujah home in 2004 and executing them following a reported radio call to a still unidentified Marine, reported the North County Times. After reporting the capture, whoever was on the other end of that radio call reportedly asked if the captives were dead yet and directed the squad to "take care of it" so they could continue their fight through the city.

Nazario was tried and acquitted in U.S. District Court in Riverside last year. He was prosecuted as a civilian because he had left the Marine Corps and was not subject to recall back into the service.

In the early spring of this year, Sgt. Ryan Weemer was tried for murder at Camp Pendleton and acquitted by a jury of eight Marine officers.
    

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