Monday, March 26, 2007
The squad leader of a group of Marines accused of murdering an Iraqi man in Hamdania Iraq last year is in court at Camp Pendleton this morning. KPBS reporter Alison St John has more.
Sergeant Lawrence Hutchins was the leader of an eight-man squad accused of kidnapping Hashim Ibrahim Awad and shooting him to death, after they failed to find the insurgent they were looking for. Five of the eight men have already been sentenced to between one and eight years in jail.
Several of those already sentenced testified against Hutchins in their plea deals, saying he was the one who masterminded the scheme to kill Awad, and make it look like they had caught a known insurgent.
Hutchins’ attorney has visited Hamdania to collect evidence, but was able to be at the site for only 20 minutes because of security concerns. The attorney says there is evidence about Awad's past that could change the outcome of the case. He may ask a judge to let him return to the scene of the killing to gather more information.
Today's motions hearing precedes the court martial for Hutchins, who has not yet revealed if he will enter a plea deal with the government, or fight the charges against him. Alison St John, KPBS News.