War Crimes Trial Defendant Back on Duty

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    NEWSLETTERS

    North County Times

    Marine Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins III is reporting for duty, four years after he was imprisoned on a murder conviction for a major Iraqi war crimes case.

    Hutchins told The Associated Press that he felt that he would be put under a microscope by the Marine Corps when he goes to work Tuesday at Camp Pendleton.

    The Marine from Plymouth, Mass., will handle logistics for training exercises.

    Hutchins is allowed to be free while the Navy appeals the overturning of his murder conviction in April by a military court that ruled he had an unfair trial in 2007. He was released June 14.

    Thad Coakley, a former Marine Corps judge advocate, said in April that he believed that the government will appeal.
        
    "When you have a serious allegation that at least was substantiated at one point that this squad leader of Marines and a Navy corpsman kidnapped and executed an Iraqi detainee -- which is essentially murder -- if you don't pursue that, how do you show that you're holding Marines to a standard of accountability?" he said.
        
    Coakley added that the court's "opinion makes no comment and therefore no judgment on the validity of the facts associated with this case. This opinion is focused upon a procedural error and a failure to maintain an attorney-client relationship."
        
    Prosecutors said Hutchins led a squad that was on a mission to find an insurgent and when they failed to find the suspect at his home, the military men went to a nearby house and pulled out Awad, killed him and then planted an AK-47 and shovel to make Awad look like an insurgent planting a bomb.
        
    Hutchins has been serving an 11-year sentence in a military prison in Leavenworth, Kan.