Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich

No jail time for killing 24 Iraqi civilians: Marine Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich

How does one accused of murder of 24 civilians, many unarmed women & children, plead guilty and serve no jail time?

Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich plead guilty to negligent dereliction of duty, and confessed his responsibility for the slayings of 24 Iraqi civilians, and expressed remorse to the victims’ families during his sentencing hearing… And yet…

Tony Perry published in the Los Angeles Times on Jan. 25, 2012:

“Wuterich pleaded guilty to negligent dereliction of duty; in exchange, manslaughter, assault and other dereliction charges were dropped.

In a strong, clear voice Tuesday, he addressed the court and the family members of the 24 Iraqis, including three women and seven children, killed by Marines in his squad.

‘Words cannot express my sorrow for the loss of your loved ones,’ Wuterich said. ‘I know there is nothing I can say to ease your pain.’

As the squad leader, Wuterich ordered his Marines ‘to shoot first, ask questions later’ as they stormed two houses on Nov. 19, 2005: A  roadside bomb had killed one Marine and injured two others.

‘When my Marines and I cleared those houses that day, I responded to what I perceived as a threat. And my intention was to eliminate that threat in order to keep the rest of my Marines alive,” Wuterich said.

“So when I told my team to ‘shoot first and ask questions later,’ the intent wasn’t that they would shoot civilians, it was that they would not hesitate in the face of the enemy.'”

 Lt. Col. David Jones said he had planned to recommend 90 days in the brig — the maximum as requested by the prosecution — but that the plea bargain approved by Lt. Gen. Thomas Waldhauser had called for no jail time.

“It’s difficult for the court to fathom negligent dereliction of duty worse than the facts in this case,” Jones told Wuterich.

Wuterich, 31, was the last of eight Marines charged in the Haditha killings to have his case resolved. Six had the charges against them dropped, and one Marine was acquitted.

The lack of trial convictions in the Haditha case is likely to further inflame anti-U.S. sentiment in Iraq, as well as fuel criticism by some legal analysts of the 6-year-long investigation and prosecution.

A Marine Corps spokesman said Waldhauser would offer no public explanation of his decision to accept the plea bargain and stipulate that Wuterich receive no jail time.

A doctrine of military law says that “the conviction can be seen as the punishment,” Jones noted to jurors at the beginning of the court-martial proceedings.

Note: The announcement by Lt. Col. David Jones came after Wuterich took responsibility during his sentencing hearing at Camp Pendleton for the killings in the Euphrates River town of Haditha and expressed remorse to the victims’ families.




March 2023

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