Monday, January 30, 2012
Neal Puckett, represented Frank Wuterich in the last Haditha court martial at Camp Pendleton
The public may never know the truth behind the trial of Marine Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich at Camp Pendleton, Wuterich's defense attorney told KPBS today.
Attorney Neal Puckett said if all the Marines who were involved in the 2005 incident in the city of Haditha that left 24 unarmed Iraqis dead had been brought to trial, the truth would have been more likely to come out.
"If all the Marines had gone to court martial, some measure of justice would have been achieved," he said. "If all the facts came out in the crucible, in the truth finding process of the court martial, perhaps our client wouldn't have gone to trial on the more serious charges."
Of the eight Marines initially charged, Wuterich was the only one who pled guilty. One Marine was acquitted and six others had their cases dropped. Puckett said the other Marines' charges were dismissed in exchange for their testimony against Wuterich.
"Understand that I'm not accusing anyone of bad actions, criminal actions," Puckett said. "Because the Marines had their charges dismissed and were given grants of immunity from the government, we'll never know the results of their trials to better find out the truth of what happened in rooms where weapons were fired and where Frank Wuterich could not see."
Wuterich's trial ended with a plea deal that meant he did not serve any jail time. Wuterich pleaded guilty for negligent dereliction of duty, but Puckett said he thought his client could have won if he had finished the trial.
"But it was his desire to plead guilty, solely to take responsibility for everything that happened that day, to take responsibility for his Marines, his own tactical decisions because he felt that he was in some measure morally responsible for things going bad that day," Puckett said.
Puckett also said if other Marines had been brought to trial, the Iraqi people might have felt differently about the conclusion. He said there were no other Marines who should have been charged, and would not reveal further details about the case that did not come out in trial.
"The problem is those answers can never officially be known," he said. "We have theories about what happened, but one of the problems in us being able to not know either is Frank Wuterich was not in every room in every house that day. He didn't fire his weapon in either house where people died. So things that went on outside of his vision, he had no way of knowing what happened."
Puckett said Wuterich believes each of his Marines performed his duty the best he could, but added "we're not so sure."
After Wuterich is discharged from the Marines in the coming weeks, he will look for jobs in the information technology field, Puckett said.