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Pretrial hearing begins for Camp Pendleton Marine

 A Marine from San Diego's North County is one of the first to appear at pretrial hearings in connection with the murder of an Iraqi civilian in Hamdaniyah last spring. In a surprise turn, the prosecution said it will not seek the death penalty against the Marine. KPBS reporter Alison St John has more.

Marine Pfc. John Jodka III of Encinitas is one of seven Marines and a Navy corpsman accused of kidnapping and killing Hashim Ibrahim Awad and then covering up the deed. Jodka's defense attorneys argued that to openly discuss the evidence would pollute a jury pool, because some of the statements by witnesses are very inflammatory. Attorney Jane Siegel said "When the cat is out of the bag and the bell is rung, there's no way to get the evidence out of the juror's heads."

Defense attorneys argued the autopsy was inconclusive and evidence from Iraqi witnesses inconsistent. They asked the judge to take Jodka's youth and inexperience into account. He is 20 years old and was in Iraq less than four months before the alleged incident occurred.

The prosecutions' last minute announcement that the Marines will not seek the death penalty applies only to Jodka at this point. Alison St John, KPBS News.

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