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Camp Pendleton: Non-commissioned Marine Corps officer faces murder retrial in military court


Sunday, February 16th, 2014
Issue 07, Volume 18.
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A motions hearing was scheduled at Camp Pendleton Thursday for a Marine Corps non-commissioned officer facing a murder retrial in military court for the 2006 death of an unarmed civilian in Iraq.

Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins III of Plymouth, Mass., was convicted of unpremeditated murder in 2007. Last June, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces overturned the conviction on the grounds that Hutchins' Fifth Amendment rights were violated during the initial investigation.

Hutchins, now 29, was freed from the Miramar brig a month later and returned to Camp Pendleton for a new assignment after serving more than half of his 11-year sentence.

Authorities said Hutchins -- then a squad leader of a unit conducting counter-insurgency operations -- was the mastermind of a plan to kidnap and kill suspected insurgent Saleh Gowad near Hamdania but grabbed disabled 52-year- old war veteran Hashim Awad instead when Gowad's family foiled the plan.

According to court documents, Hutchins was held in solitary confinement for seven days and denied the ability to communicate with a lawyer after he asked for one during an interrogation.

His belongings were searched and he later waived his rights and provided a confession, which the court contended

was illegally obtained.

Seven other Marines and a Navy corpsman were also charged in the case, and none received sentenced longer than 16 months.


 

16 comments

Comment Profile ImageBlah!
Comment #1 | Sunday, Feb 16, 2014 at 6:45 pm
Oh great another professional murder on the loose courtesy of Uncle Sam.
Comment Profile ImageLee
Comment #2 | Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 9:16 am
I'm a bit confused here.

A Marine is tried for a war crime. What about George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Barack Obama and Joe Biden?
Comment Profile ImageGrunt
Comment #3 | Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 7:35 pm
(Wasting my time as you never answer questions, Lee, ) but...what war crime did Joe Bidden commit?
Comment Profile ImageLee
Comment #4 | Tuesday, Feb 18, 2014 at 8:58 pm
@ Grunt

Joe Bidden has committed absolutely positively no war crime.
Comment Profile ImageCurious
Comment #5 | Wednesday, Feb 19, 2014 at 9:22 am
@Lee: Why did you say that he had then? Like most of your other postings; stuff and nonsense.
Comment Profile ImageGruint
Comment #6 | Wednesday, Feb 19, 2014 at 10:07 am
Then Lee, why in comment #2 did you ask "what about ....Joe Biden"?
Comment Profile ImageReality Checker
Comment #7 | Wednesday, Feb 19, 2014 at 12:33 pm
Who gives a crap about Biden. Lets keep our eye on the ball here folks. A dedicated Marine was charged with a crime that resulted from actions taken in the heat of battle, under most trying circumstances, and under absolutely absurd rules of engagement that would not have been tolerated in the Marine Corps in WWII. These guys are ordered to do the darn near impossible, and almost always at grave risk to themselves because of these idiotic rules of engagement. Political correctness has a whole new meaning in the Corps these days, and also the rest of our military. It's an undue burden placed on them unfairly and unjustly, for purely political reasons. The stress these Marines are under on a daily basis in country is overwhelming. Not even cops come close. But, somehow cops get away with much more, much worse than what this upstanding Marine did in the heat of battle.
Our military men and women have to live every day with the very real prospect of getting "railroaded" by politically motivated senior officers and politicians that those officers are trying their best to impress in order to move up the promotion ladder. Plus, those general officers are threatened with their careers if they don't do what the political class wants. Which is to railroad any serviceman they can on any charge they can, for political ideology. Its a shame. Who of us here would be willing to step into this great marines boots and go off to war knowing that not only is your back not being watched, but you're being politically targeted by your own government more than the enemy you are fighting. Patton is rolling over in his grave. It's a disgrace, a total and complete disgusting disgrace.
Comment Profile ImageLee
Comment #8 | Wednesday, Feb 19, 2014 at 2:30 pm
@ Grunt

Joe Biden has committed war crimes.
Comment Profile ImageGrunt
Comment #9 | Wednesday, Feb 19, 2014 at 8:35 pm
@ reality checker - normally I would agree wholeheartedly with you, but as I understand the facts, this was not a "heat of the battle"; it was going looking for someone then killing someone else. (I will defer to the court-martial). Other courts, I fully agree- trying Marines for no real justifiable cause, using 20-20 hindsight and hours of deliberations when he had seconds.
Comment Profile ImageReality Checker
Comment #10 | Thursday, Feb 20, 2014 at 1:07 pm
@ Grunt, I won't defer to the courts martial. The judges and military lawyers are picked based on their political leanings and advanced based on how they rule in certain cases. It's true. Political correctness has taken on a whole new meaning and taken to a whole new level in the military than you can ever imagine. Trust me, it's real, real bad.
I will stand behind each and every troop until it's proven beyond any unbiased reasonable doubt (meaning passes the sniff test) that there was an actual crime that took place. One that was committed willfully, and without due regard for the law. Even if a crime were somehow committed (theoretically speaking here) I would give the troops the benefit of the doubt and would not prosecute them in courts martial. Unless the crime is so egregious and deserving of prosecution, I would say NJP is appropriate in the vast majority of cases.
This administration and the cabinet members, general officers, and high ranking administrators have it out for the troops. Period. That's a true statement. The troops know it, too. It's one of the main reasons we have such low morale and an ever increasingly hollow force now. No one in Washington or Virginia has their backs, except to stick a prosecutorial or career-killing knife in it, that is. Get real dude.
You want to stand on that wall? Didn't think so.
Comment Profile ImageGrunt
Comment #11 | Thursday, Feb 20, 2014 at 7:51 pm
@ Reality checker- I say again, I stand behind 99% of the Marines- too many are charged with crimes that should not be - but this case, at least the facts that I know, does not warrant it - he went looking to kill - not as part of his duties. I believe that this accusation is egregious and deserving of prosecution. I fully understand the PC on the base as I work with Marines every day. I disagree that generals (at least Marine Generals) have it in for the troops, and I disagree that the morale is low. I am interested in your claim that lawyers and judges are picked based on political leaning and promoted on outcome. Most MC lawyers and judges I have met, and there have been many, are conservative and strive just as hard, if not harder, to represent their client be it the US or the Marine. The military is the only trial where I have seen the prosecutor recommend and get a lesser sentence than the judge inposed
Comment Profile ImageReality checker
Comment #12 | Saturday, Feb 22, 2014 at 3:35 pm
I know that morale is low. I see it every day. I hear the whispers, the griping, the troops don't know what their mission is or why they should be doing it. They dispose the idea of having to go to Afghanistan or any other Stan with no real mission other than to achieve some political goal that runs counter to what there been trained to do. And, when they are there, they have to follow insane, seemingly anti-American rules of engagement. They feel like everyone who commands them feels like the enemy has more rights than they do. Even to life itself. They feel like Washington sees the enemies leves are worth more than theirs on the battle field. Because it's more politically correct to have your own sons and daughters killed in combat now than to have pictures of dead afghanis plastered all over the TV. Those Taliban and al-queda scum will go shoot up and blow up little schoolchildren and send it to our media claiming we did it, and so that's how those polically correct insane anti-American chicken-crap tie your hands behind your back while Mohammed places an IED beside the road to your camp, rules of engagement came to be. This current administration has fired over 300 senior war fighters that they thought were not POLITICALLY CORRECT enough and had any backbone, that pushed back against these idiotic rules and policies. So, whose left? Only senior YES MEN that will do any anti American thing Obama or his Muslim secretary's of defense wants them to do. And, for junior enlisted, it's the ignorant product of the government public school system, or better known as government indoctrination centers. Those junior enlisted don't have a clue, so they'd don't know any better, so they aren't smart enough yet to know better. So, of course it seems like those brainwashed enlisteds are happy. But, it's a hollow force because it's all that's left. Low ranking empty headed junior enlisted that don't have a clue yet, and high ranking yes men that will happily put those young lives at risk to make Oblamo happy and maybe get a position in the pentagon, or advanced in rank. They've sold out thier oath. They've undermined the readiness of our forces. Those that are left that know better have morale in the dirt and are just waiting for retirement to come. Just like I did. I've been there. I work along side these true heroes every day in my line of work. I see first hand. I get told what most never hear. I hear the tings that they don't dare say to anyone who can't be trusted to keep it anonimous. I know WHATS REALLY GOING ON. You should be afraid. Out forces aren't what they used to be. We don't have the political will to win a war, we don't have the training, the equipment, the funding, or the educated and skilled young people to fill the ranks and that have the right stuff to be our military leaders of the future. We don't have the technical support to keep these war fighters fighting when their equipment beaks down. The technical enlisted don't have the skills or the training or education to maintain their own equipment. It's got to be fixed by retirees like me, who have the skill, knowledge, and know how to do it. And, people like me are getting older, fewer. Within 20-30 years there won't be many like me and those that work with me to go out and fix this high tech equipment these war fighters rely on. It will break, ad. It won't get fixed. Any they won't have anything else to fall back on. And you think they don't know that? They do. Any they feel let down. Like no one has their backs. They are stuck with inferior equipment that is hard to use and breaks a lot, their funding is continually being cut, they have to follow insane rules of engagement, they have to do back to back tours overseas, and they don't feel trusted. Plus, they are continually the Petrie dish for social engineering. It's just another roadblock thrown in their way, that undermines good order and discipline, and destroys readiness and warfighting capability.
THATS WHY MORALE IS IN THE DIRT!!!
Comment Profile ImageDR DR
Comment #13 | Tuesday, Feb 25, 2014 at 4:27 pm
Please take time to read Reality checker, Thank you. I wish more people knew just how bad our nation has become - and what the future holds for us and the next generations.

Those that disagree, listen to the tainted news and believe it.
Comment Profile Imagegrunt
Comment #14 | Wednesday, Feb 26, 2014 at 9:12 am
Reality Checker – wow, you and I obliviously work with totally different groups of Marines. I work with infantry, artillery, recon, and CLR Marines every day. I have not seen any that “dispose” the idea of going to Afghanistan, nor have I seen one try to avoid a fourth or fifth tour. Most that go on the 31MEU seem disappointed that they are NOT going to Afghanistan (if they have to go, they would rather go to war, it seems that sit on Okinawa).
ROE, yes they are bad. Yes, the POTUS seems to be purging war fighter and those senior officer that stand for what the military is supposed to, no argument there.
Junior enlisted - “not smart enough” RC, the young Marines I meet every day are smarter than my Viet-Nam era Marines; the average infantry Marine is far from empty headed, and if you really worked with them you would know that.
The point was morale was bad- not what else is wrong. Morale is good; as you are also retired, maybe you remember the post Viet Nam Marine Corps; this Marine Corps is not that. They have a low drug usage rate, few disrespect and disobedience office hours and/or courts-martial, few assault or racial incidents, few UA charges.
Much of what you say is correct, especially about the national command authority – but the moral of the individual Marine and the Corps as a whole is good. I ask you to look back at our history, compare the current moral to the Viet Nam era all the way up to CMC Gray’s time and truthfully tell me that t “THAT’S (sic) WHY MORALE IS IN THE DIRT!!!”
Comment Profile ImageReally?
Comment #15 | Wednesday, Feb 26, 2014 at 9:43 am
Couldn't agree more with Reality Checker, I did 27 years in the Corps myself, got out last year. Couldn't take any more of the PC crap getting shoved down our face, my last tour was in D.C. where I was able to witness first hand the real enemy of the United States.
Comment Profile ImageReality Checker
Comment #16 | Wednesday, Feb 26, 2014 at 11:33 am
OO0000hhhh Rah!, Semper Fi, DO or Die!
And on a side note, I do a lot of work with other branches of the service, mostly Navy, and a lot of that experience is what drives my posts on this thread, not just Marines. If you could see what Ive seen, heard what Ive heard, you would hang your head in disbelief and wonder aloud "how and why has this been allowed to happen?" #pathetic state of affairs.

Article Comments are contributed by our readers, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Fallbrook Village News staff. The name listed as the author for comments cannot be verified; Comment authors are not guaranteed to be who they claim they are.

 

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