On Wednesday, a Marine sergeant was convicted for the unpremeditated murder of a disabled Iraqi civilian in 2006. The jury, which consisted of three enlisted men and three military officers, gave a guilty verdict for the second time in one of most complicated and long-running cases from the Iraq War.
Prosecutors say Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins III killed 52-year-old Hashim Ibrahim Awad because Hutchins wanted to send a message to a resistant Iraqi village.
Hutchins was also charged with conspiracy and larceny, with the prosecutors alleging that he placed the AK-47 and shovel near Awad to make the victim appear like an insurgent. According to Yahoo News, the jury did not charge Hutchins with providing false statement regarding the killing.
On the morning of April 26, 2006, Hutchins led a team of Marine squads on a mission to foil the militants’ attempts of using improvised bombs in the Iraqi village of Hamdania. Unable to find the bomber, they entered a house nearby and took a disabled police officer, according to witnesses in the previous trial of Hutchins.
Hutchins and other Marine squads shot Awad and placed an AK-47 along with a shovel next to his body to make it convincing that the victim was planting a bomb, the witnesses had said.
As reported by Reuters, although Hutchins was convicted in 2007 for the killing, the conviction was overturned in 2010, citing the inadmissibility of a statement he made while in custody.
He was again convicted by a military appeals court, but the conviction was later overturned in 2013; this time, because Hutchins was denied a lawyer early in the investigation for a week.
During Hutchins’ first appeal in 2009, the then navy secretary Ray Mabus said that Awad’s murder was cold-blooded and that it is only fair that Hutchins serve the entire period of his sentence.
During closing arguments, Attorney Christopher Oprison, representing Hutchins, said, “You don’t have to convict Sgt. Hutchins of anything.”
Military Times reported that Hutchins was given the permission to go home, but he will appear on Thursday for his sentence. If convicted, he would serve the remaining years of his sentence of 11 years.
You might also be interested in: Legend Rapper Tupac Remembered On His 44th Birthday