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Retrial for Marine convicted in Iraq killing set for early 2015

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — The retrial for a Marine who served six years for the 2006 killing of an Iraqi civilian has been set for Jan. 26.

Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins III was convicted of unpremeditated murder and sentenced to 11 years in military prison in 2007, but his conviction was twice overturned by military appeals courts because he was held in solitary confinement for a week and denied access to a lawyer when he was originally questioned. 

Six other enlisted Marines and one Navy corpsman were convicted in the same incident: the killing of an unarmed retired Iraqi policeman in Hamdaniyah. Hutchins, the squad leader, received the longest sentence. None of the other men served more than 18 months.

The Marine Corps in January announced that it would retry Hutchins for the crime, and after an arraignment, his trial was scheduled for this month. But at a motions hearing Friday, the judge said Hutchins’ new civilian lawyer had asked for the trial to be delayed. The retrial is now set to begin Jan. 26.

During the hearing here, the civilian lawyer, Chris Oprison, asked the judge to consider a motion for a new Article 32 hearing, in part because Hutchins has already been acquitted of some of the original charges.

Navy Capt. Andrew Henderson has not yet issued a ruling on that motion.

Oprison also is seeking emails and correspondence he believes may show unlawful command influence, based on comments Navy Secretary Ray Mabus made about Hutchins in 2009, and on a rule of law brief that mentioned Hutchins’ case.

“We don’t know what we don’t know,” Oprison said.

He also argued that an unprecedented search of defense counsel offices here in May could have compromised Hutchins’ case, and that the search called into question the ability of defendants like Hutchins to trust the sanctity of attorney-client privilege.

Investigators involved in the search testified that they did not read any files during the search.

hlad.jennifer@stripes.com
Twitter: @jhlad

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