Trial to go forward in deaths of 24 Iraqis
Marine sergeant is last defendant in Haditha case
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — A military judge in California denied a motion yesterday to dismiss charges against a Marine sergeant whose squad killed 24 Iraqi men, women, and children after a bomb killed a Marine.
Marine Lieutenant Colonel David Jones ruled at Camp Pendleton on a defense motion claiming there was unlawful command influence while a general considered a court-martial for Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich.
The judge ruled there was no record of any “meaningful comment’’ between the general and an aide who had investigated the case as a military lawyer.
Wuterich is the only remaining defendant in the biggest criminal case against US troops to arise from the Iraq war.
He is facing trial on reduced charges of voluntary manslaughter and other crimes in the November 2005 attack in the town of Haditha.
Wuterich, seated in uniform, showed no emotion yesterday when the judge began by saying, “Motion is denied.’’
“The record is absent any meaningful comment’’ between the general and the aide, the judge said.
Wuterich, 30, of Meriden, Conn., is one of eight Marines originally charged with murder or failure to investigate the killings. Six have had charges dropped or dismissed, and one was acquitted. The end of the case would probably have sparked outcry in Iraq, where many see a lack of accountability for the actions of US troops through the seven years of war.
Wuterich is currently assigned to administrative work at First Marine Division headquarters at Camp Pendleton.
The deaths occurred after a Marine was killed by a roadside bomb in the town of Haditha.