Wed, Nov 01, 2006 - Page 7 News List

US Marine involved in Iraq murder case cuts deal


A Marine charged with kidnapping and murdering an Iraqi man in the western Iraqi town of Hamdania has agreed to plead guilty to lesser charges, his attorney said Monday.

Thomas Watt, attorney for Lance Corporal Tyler Jackson, declined to discuss details of the agreement, but confirmed that a deal has been reached and that his client is due in court next week to plead guilty to some charges.

Jackson, 23, from Tracy, is charged with murder, kidnapping, conspiracy, housebreaking and larceny. He is the third troop to have made a plea deal in the case, in which seven Camp Pendleton-based Marines and a Navy corpsman were charged with murdering 52-year-old Hashim Ibrahim Awad.

Last week, another Marine, Private First Class John Jodka, pleaded guilty to assault and conspiracy to obstruct justice. The first to make a deal was Petty Officer Third Class Melson Bacos, the Navy Corpsman on patrol with the Marines. He pleaded guilty to kidnapping and conspiracy.

A Marine Corps spokeswoman, Captain Amy Malugani, declined to comment on Jackson's case.

At their courts-martial, Jodka and Bacos testified about the death. In return, prosecutors dropped murder and other charges against them. Bacos was sentenced to one year in prison; Jodka's sentencing is set for Nov. 15.

Bacos said the squad was on patrol in Hamdania searching for a known insurgent who had been captured three times, then released. The group approached a house where the insurgent was believed to be hiding, but when someone inside woke up, the Marines instead went to another home and grabbed Awad.

Bacos said the squad took Awad to a roadside hole and shot him before planting a shovel and AK-47 to make it appear he was an insurgent planting a bomb. Jodka said he and other Marines shot at Awad.

Both Jodka and Bacos singled out squad leader Sargent Lawrence Hutchins as hatching the alleged plan to kidnap an insurgent.

A decision has not yet been announced on whether Hutchins will be referred to a court-martial.

Hutchins' attorney, Rich Brannon, has said he did not believe Hutchins had done anything wrong.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top