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US soldier gets life term in Iraqi killings

Associated Press / April 17, 2009
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VILSECK, Germany - A US Army soldier convicted of murder in the 2007 killings of four bound and blindfolded Iraqis was sentenced yesterday to life in prison.

Master Sergeant John Hatley, 40, will also have his rank reduced to private, forfeit all pay, and receive a dishonorable discharge, a jury of eight Army officers and noncommissioned officers decided. He has the possibility of parole after serving 20 years.

Hatley and his wife, who sat behind him in the public gallery, showed no emotion when the sentence was read out. He declined to speak to reporters afterward.

Hatley was found guilty Wednesday of premeditated murder and conspiracy in the execution-style killings of the detainees. He was acquitted of premeditated murder in a separate January 2007 incident in which a wounded Iraqi insurgent was shot and killed.

Hatley, who recently underwent knee surgery, limped to the stand with a cane to give an emotional closing statement earlier yesterday.

In his statement, the career soldier urged the jury to let him complete six more months of military service, which would have brought his total service to 20 years.

Army rulings go through an automatic appeals process.