Marine at Center of War Crimes Case Is Freed - NBC 7 San Diego

Marine at Center of War Crimes Case Is Freed

Sergeant conviction for killing unarmed Iraqi was overturned



    Marine at Center of War Crimes Case Is Freed
    North County Times

    A Marine sergeant accused of killing an unarmed Iraqi man in a major war crimes case will return to his Camp Pendleton unit now that he has been released from a military jail, according to Marine Corps officials.

          Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins III walked out of the brig at Camp Pendleton on Monday after a military judge determined he is not a flight risk while his case is being appealed.
    Hutchins' murder conviction was overturned in April by a military appeals court in Washington, D.C. A military judge ruled that his 2007 trial was unfair, but the Navy is appealing the ruling and prosecutors wanted to keep Hutchins in confinement during that process.
    Thad Coakley, a former Marine Corps judge advocate, predicted the government's 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?" Coakley said.

    The case is now in the hands of a higher court, which can affirm or reverse the April ruling. That decision may not come until early next year.