June 27, 2013

Marine's Hamdaniya Iraq Murder Conviction Tossed

Gretel C. Kovach | UT San Diego |A major Iraq War crimes case was upended Wednesday when the military’s highest court dismissed the conviction of a former Camp Pendleton Marine accused of murdering an unarmed man in Hamdaniya, Iraq, in 2006.

Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins III was convicted in 2007 at general court martial by a jury of his military peers. He is serving an 11-year sentence in the brig at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.

The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces ruled in Hutchins’ favor because a confession obtained by naval investigators in Iraq violated his Fifth Amendment rights, according to the opinion posted on the court’s website.

One judge also criticized Navy Secretary Ray Mabus for making “disturbing and inappropriate comments” to the media in 2009 during post-trial clemency proceedings that created an “intolerable strain on public perception of the military justice system.”

Those comments, however, were not the basis for the ruling because the court does not have jurisdiction over those proceedings.

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