Plea Entered Before Marine Court-Martial

A Marine sergeant has pleaded not guilty to murdering an unarmed detainee in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, according to a published report.

Sgt. Jermaine Nelson entered his plea Monday in a military courtroom at Camp Pendleton. He is charged with unpremeditated murder and dereliction of duty in the November 2004 death.

Nelson's court-martial is scheduled to begin Jan. 5. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted of murder.

Squadmate Sgt. Ryan Weemer faces the same charges and is scheduled to be court-martialed Jan. 12. Former squad leader Jose Nazario was acquitted this year in federal court in Riverside of charges related to the same battle.

The deaths came amid some of the fiercest fighting of the Iraq war.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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