Marine charged with Iraq war crime to be tried for 3d time

Mass. man led squad accused of 2006 murder

Sergeant Lawrence Hutchins of Plymouth said, “There is nothing that I want more than for this whole situation to be over.”


Sergeant Lawrence Hutchins of Plymouth said, “There is nothing that I want more than for this whole situation to be over.”

SAN DIEGO — The Marine Corps said Monday it will retry a sergeant from Massachusetts whose murder conviction in a major Iraq war crime case has been overturned twice by military courts in recent years.

Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Kloppel, a Marine spokesman, said the Corps had determined that the seriousness of the crime warranted a retrial of the case of Sergeant Lawrence Hutchins III of Plymouth.


Hutchins led an eight-man squad accused of kidnapping a retired Iraqi police officer and killing him in the village of Hamdania in 2006. He will be arraigned Wednesday.

Hutchins expressed disbelief Monday. ‘‘There is nothing that I want more than for this whole situation to be over . . . to be able to move on and begin a life with my family away from all of this,’’ he wrote in an e-mailed statement. ‘‘But even though it has been nearly eight years, it looks like that will not be possible.’’

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The military’s highest court overturned his murder conviction and ordered Hutchins released from the brig last summer after ruling there were errors in his case.

The sergeant had served more than half of his 11-year sentence. The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces supported his claims that his rights were violated when he was held in solitary confinement without access to a lawyer for seven days during his 2006 interrogation in Iraq.

Prosecutors said Hutchins waived his right to counsel and willfully told his side of the story without coercion.


The case was overturned the first time by a lower court about four years ago, only to be reinstated in 2011.

Hutchins has said he thought the man was an insurgent leader. Prosecutors accused the squad of planting a shovel and AK-47 to make it appear he was an insurgent.

The six other Marines and a Navy corpsman in his squad served less than 18 months locked up.

Former Marine Corps attorney Thad Coakley said the courts have thrown out the convictions for procedural errors rather than the merits of the murder charge, so it’s important the prosecution exhaust every avenue.

‘‘If we’re perceived to have ignored this because it happened in war, or white-washed it because of procedural errors or to have not taken it seriously, then we are discrediting ourselves,’’ he said.

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