2 Marines admit to abducting, killing Iraqi
Published: Thursday, August 31, 2006 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 30, 2006 at 9:00 p.m.
CAMP PENDLETON - Two Marines have confessed to kidnapping and killing a 52-year-old Iraqi man in Hamandiya, west of Baghdad, a military prosecutor said Wednesday at a preliminary hearing.
U.S. DEATHS IN IRAQ
As of Wednesday, at least 2,639 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The figure includes seven military civilians. At least 2,095 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.
The latest identifications reported by the military:
Army Spc. Matthew E. Schneider, 23, Gorham, N.H.; died Monday in Ramadi in a non-hostile incident; assigned to the 141st Signal Battalion, 1st Armored Division, Wiesbaden, Germany.
Marine Cpl. Christopher T. Warndorf, 21, Burlington, Ky.; died Tuesday in Anbar province; assigned to 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Capt. Nicholas L. Gannon said Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins III and Cpl. Trent Thomas admitted the slaying, one of two high-profile cases in which Marines allegedly killed Iraqi civilians without provocation.
Gannon said a third defendant, Lance Cpl. Robert Pennington, gave a statement that lays out the alleged conspiracy to cover up the murder by leaving phony evidence and filing a false report.
Seven Marines and a Navy corpsman have been accused in the April 26 incident of dragging Hashim Ibrahim Awad from his home, shooting him and leaving an AK-47 and shovel near his body to suggest he was an insurgent burying a roadside bomb.
On Wednesday, two so-called Article 32 hearings were held to determine if two of the Marines should go to court-martial .
Similar hearings are set for the other defendants in the next two months.
The defense attorney for Cpl. Marshall Magincalda, at the hearing for his client, said he plans to argue that the alleged confessions mentioned by the prosecutor are merely statements given to investigators, not admissions of guilt.
Similarly, a defense attorney for Pfc. John Jodka, at his hearing, said the statements had been coerced by authorities and were untrue.
At both hearings, defense attorneys said their clients were willing to let the two hearing officers make their recommendations based on reading the investigative documents, saying that airing the evidence in public at this stage could keep their clients from receiving a fair trial.
All eight defendants are from the same platoon in Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment, 1st Marine Division.
A dozen Marines from a different battalion are suspected of killing 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha in November after a roadside bomb killed one Marine and injured another. Charges in that case are expected to be filed in September.
This story appeared in print on page 9
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