The US Navy announced June 7 that it will appeal an appeals court ruling overturning the conviction of US Marine Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins III. Hutchins, who was convicted in 2007 for the 2006 kidnapping and murder of an Iraqi civilian in Hamdania, remains in the brig at Camp Pendleton while the Navy appeals to the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. Hutchins’ defense attorney Marine Capt. Babu Kaza has described the appeal as without merit, and has called it politically motivated. The appeal comes despite a recommendation to the contrary by a legal adviser that it would not likely yield a different result. If the appeal fails, the case would be returned to Camp Pendleton where a general will decide whether to retry the case.
In April, a military appeals court reversed Hutchins’s conviction, citing lack of a fair trial. In an 8-1 decision, the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that the departure of one of Hutchins’s primary attorneys shortly before the court-martial began resulted in an unfair trial. The ruling made it possible for Hutchins to be restored to his prior rank, which was reduced to private following his conviction. Hutchins was serving an 11-year sentence, reduced from 15 years. He was convicted in 2007 of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, making a false official statement, and larceny. Six Marines pleaded guilty to charges related to their roles in the incident, in which an Iraqi man removed from his residence and killed, then arranged with a shovel and firearm to appear as if he were planting an improvised explosive device.
From Jurist, June 8. Used with permission.