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Motions Hearing Scheduled For Ex-Pendleton Marine Facing Murder Retrial

CAMP PENDLETON — A motions hearing was scheduled at Camp Pendleton Thursday for a Marine Corps non-commissioned officer facing a murder retrial in military court for the 2006 death of an unarmed civilian in Iraq.

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Lawrence Hutchins III

Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins III of Plymouth, Mass., was convicted of unpremeditated murder in 2007. Last June, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces overturned the conviction on the grounds that Hutchins' Fifth Amendment rights were violated during the initial investigation.

Hutchins, now 29, was freed from the Miramar brig a month later and returned to Camp Pendleton for a new assignment after serving more than half of his 11-year sentence.

Authorities said Hutchins — then a squad leader of a unit conducting counter-insurgency operations — was the mastermind of a plan to kidnap and kill suspected insurgent Saleh Gowad near Hamdania but grabbed disabled 52-year-old war veteran Hashim Awad instead when Gowad's family foiled the plan.

According to court documents, Hutchins was held in solitary confinement for seven days and denied the ability to communicate with a lawyer after he asked for one during an interrogation. His belongings were searched and he later waived his rights and provided a confession, which the court contended was illegally obtained.

Seven other Marines and a Navy corpsman were also charged in the case, and none received sentenced longer than 16 months.

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