SAN DIEGO — A Marine from Plymouth, Mass., convicted in a major Iraqi war crimes case was released yesterday and will remain free while his case is being reviewed after a military appeals court ruled he had an unfair trial.
Sergeant Lawrence Hutchins III has served four years in prison for the killing of a 52-year-old Iraqi man by his squad. Attorneys for the government say Hutchins led a squad of seven troops who killed the man in the Iraqi village of Hamdania in 2006, and then planted a shovel and AK-47 to make it appear he was an insurgent.
The US Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals in Washington ruled Hutchins was not given a fair trial because his lead defense lawyer left the case shortly before his 2007 trial. The Navy is appealing and the case is now in the hands of the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, which can affirm or overturn the Washington court’s ruling.
Hutchins told a Naval Clemency and Parole Board in January that he wants to live with his parents in Plymouth and help them pay off their mortgage, because they refinanced their home several times to cover his legal expenses.