- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 22, 2006

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (AP) — Seven Marines and a Navy corpsman were charged yesterday with murder in the shooting death of an Iraqi man, and the men could be executed if convicted.

All eight also were charged with kidnapping. Other charges include conspiracy, larceny and providing false official statements.

Col. Stewart Navarre, chief of staff for Marine Corps Installations West, announced the charges at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base, where the eight are being held in individual cells for 23 hours each day. The troops are members of the Pendleton-based 3rd Battallion, 5th Marines Regiment.

Lt. Gen. John Sattler, the senior commander at Pendleton, will decide whether and how to proceed with preliminary hearings known in the military justice system as Article 32 proceedings. All eight have hired private attorneys and have been given military defense lawyers. Some or all could face the death penalty, though Col. Navarre said “it’s far too early to speculate on that right now.”

The case is separate from the purported killing by other Marines of 24 Iraqi civilians in the western Iraqi city of Haditha last November. Two investigations related to that case are still under way and no criminal charges have been filed.

The Pentagon began investigating shortly after an Iraqi man identified as Hashim Ibrahim Awad was killed April 26 in Hamdania, west of Baghdad.

A charging document provided to the Associated Press by Jane Siegel, an attorney for Marine Pfc. John J. Jodka, says that the Iraqi was shot by five of the Marines and that an AK-47 assault rifle was placed in the victim’s hands, apparently to make it appear he was an insurgent.

In addition to Cpl. Thomas and Pfc. Jodka, those charged are Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Melson J. Bacos, and five Marines — Sgt. Lawrence G. Hutchins III, Lance Cpl. Tyler A. Jackson, Lance Cpl. Jerry E. Shumate Jr., Lance Cpl. Robert B. Pennington, and Cpl. Marshall L. Magincalda.

According to the charging document, the troops were staking out an intersection to see whether anyone appeared to place explosives in holes along the road. When no one came, Cpl. Magincalda, Cpl. Thomas, Lance Cpl. Pennington and Hospital Corpsman Bacos went into a nearby home, stole a shovel and an AK-47 and went looking for an insurgent named Saleh Gowad.

When they couldn’t find Gowad, the four went into a house belonging to Mr. Awad and kidnapped him, prosecutors assert. They then forced Mr. Awad to the ground and bound his feet, took him to their hideout and placed him in a hole. Sgt. Hutchins, Cpl. Thomas and Lance Cpl. Shumate fired M-16 rifles at Mr. Awad while Lance Cpl. Jackson and Pfc. Jodka fired M-249 automatic weapons, killing him.

Hospital Corpsman Bacos then fired the AK-47 into the air to expend some bullets. Cpl. Magincalda collected the bullet casings and put them by the body, the paper said. Lance Cpl. Pennington put the AK-47 in Mr. Awad’s hands.

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