A Marine Corps official has recommended that murder charges be dismissed against a Camp Pendleton squad leader accused in the deaths of 17 civilians killed in the Iraqi city of Haditha two years ago.
The official, Lt. Col. Paul Ware, said in a recommendation obtained by the North County Times that rather than face murder charges, squad leader Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich should be tried for the lesser offense of negligent homicide in the deaths of five children and two women.
Ware recommended 10 other murder charges against Wuterich be dismissed.
“I believe after reviewing all the evidence that no trier of fact can conclude Staff Sgt. Wuterich formed the criminal intent to kill,” Ware wrote in reference to the women and children. “When a Marine fails to exercise due care and civilians die, the charge of negligent homicide, and not murder, is appropriate.”
Ware’s report, issued to prosecutors and defense attorneys this week, found the evidence against Wuterich contradictory. Ware’s role as the case’s investigating officer is akin to that of a judge presiding over a pretrial hearing.
“The case against Staff Sgt. Wuterich is simply not strong enough to conclude he committed murder beyond a reasonable doubt,” Ware wrote. “Almost all witnesses have an obvious bias or prejudice.”
Instead of drafting resolutions condemning Rush Limbaugh, Congress ought to be drafting a resolution condemning the slandering John Murtha.
*Charges dropped against Capt. Lucas McConnell
*Charges recommended dropped against Lance Cpl. Stephen B. Tatum
*Charges dropped against Lance Corporal Justin Sharratt
*Charges dropped against Sergeant Sanick Dela Cruz
Flashback May 18, 2006:
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Let me ask you Mr. Murtha to give us some details about that. Draw us a picture of what happened at Haditha.
REP. JOHN “JACK” MURTHA: Well, I’ll tell you exactly what happened. One Marine was killed and the Marines just said we’re going to take care – they don’t know who the enemy is, the pressure was too much on them, so they went into houses and they actually killed civilians. And, and –
MATTHEWS:—was this My Lai? Was this a case of – when you say cold blood Congressman, a lot of people think you’re basically saying you got some civilians sitting in a room around a field and they’re executed. Just on purpose…
MURTHA: That’s exactly it. This was not an action…this was troops…they were so stressed out…
Murtha’s fax numbers:
814-539-6229 — District
202-225-5709 — Washington
The final call belongs to Gen. James Mattis, who can either accept Ware’s recommendation of dismissal or press on. He did take his advice in the case of the other two Marines, which bodes well for Wuterich. As for Murtha, as I recall his line on this has always been that the Marines acted out of “fatigue” or “exhaustion” caused by the stress of extended tours. That’s his way of shifting blame away from the troops, whom the left is always leery about faulting, and over to Bush, who can be safely demonized. If Wuterich is convicted on negligent homicide charges Murtha will simply spin it as vindication of his theory. If he isn’t convicted, well, then Happy Jack’s going to have himself a tough month in the blogosphere, at least.
For all the background and info on how to support the Haditha Marines, go to Defend Our Marines.