Marine sentenced to eight years in death of unarmed Iraqi

NATION DIGEST

February 18, 2007|By Los Angeles Times

SAN DIEGO -- A 22-year-old Marine lance corporal was sentenced yesterday to eight years in the brig and a possible dishonorable discharge in connection with the killing of an unarmed Iraqi man last year, the toughest sentence yet meted out in the high-profile case.

Lance Cpl. Robert Pennington pleaded guilty to kidnapping and conspiracy in the shooting death of Hashim Ibrahim Awad, 52, in the village of Hamandiya. In exchange for his plea, a murder charge was dropped.

In previous hearings at Camp Pendleton on the case, a Navy corpsman was sentenced to 12 months in the brig, a private first-class to 18 months, and two lance corporals to 21 months each. Like Pennington, the four had pleaded guilty.

Prosecutors suggested that evidence showed Pennington, who was on his third combat tour in Iraq, was more culpable in the killing, including taking the lead in planting an AK-47 near the body to suggest Awad was an insurgent killed in a firefight.

Pennington admitted that his squad dragged Awad from his home in the middle of the night on April 26. They were frustrated after being unable to find their original target, he said.

Pennington's parents had pleaded for mercy with Judge Col. Steven Folsom.

His mother told Folsom that her son was psychologically damaged by the death of a friend in the battle for Fallujah in November 2004.

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