A jury of US Marines acquitted Sgt. Ryan Weemer April 9 of one count of murder and one count of dereliction of duty for his involvement in the shooting death of a detained Iraqi insurgent during a Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-Iraq) November 2004 offensive in Fallujah. Weemer’s defense lawyers argued that he acted in self-defense. The jury deliberated for more than four hours before reaching their verdict. Weemer would have faced life in prison, had he been convicted of murder.
In July 2007, the Naval Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS) announced investigations of at least 10 Marines in connection with the Fallujah offensive after Weemer admitted during a polygraphed job interview with the US Secret Service that he had witnessed indiscriminate killings in Fallujah. Weemer was charged in March 2008.
The charges against Weemer followed December 2007 charges against Marine Sgt. Jermaine Nelson for murder and dereliction of duty, and August 2007 charges against former Marine Sgt. Jose Nazario for voluntary manslaughter in connection with the same incident. Nazario was acquitted by a civilian jury in August. Nelson pleaded not guilty in December and is currently awaiting court-martial proceedings. (Jurist, April 9)